Neotenic Design. Exhibit Opening.

The past decade has seen a proliferation of “cute” furniture—design objects with exaggerated proportions and anatomical associations—big faces, thick legs, and rounded feet. Despite their various formal and material differences, these designs share a set of common principles. More than simply cute, they are neotenic— possessing childlike features that elicit an emotional response.

Attendees joined us for first looks during the opening of the Neotenic Design Exhibit - a collection of furniture and neotenic objects curated by A/D/O Workspace Member and co-founder of JUMBO, Justin Donnelly. 

Contributing designers include Andreas Lund, Ara Thorose, Big-Game, Chris Wolston, FÄrg & Blanche, Faye Toogood, Front, Jean-Baptiste Fastrez, HAHA, Jack Rabbit Studio, Jaime Hayon, Jonas Wagell, JUMBO, Konstantin Grcic, Loic Bard, Müsing–Sellés, Pierre Yovanovitch, Sylvain Willenz, Talbot & Yoon.t & Yoon, Toni Grilo, Farg and Blanche.


ne·ot·e·ny - noun, zoology

the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal.

Neotenic furniture designs have made several furtive appearances in western design history, first in 1940s Denmark, under WWII era German occupation, then in 1970’s Italy during the Years of Lead—a time of intense social and political upheaval. Neoteny’s third and most recent appearance has not been limited to a specific region or culture. Instead, since the Great Recession in 2008, neoteny has blossomed into a worldwide design phenomenon.

It’s curious and perhaps telling that childlike design has emerged as a distinct design alternative during periods of intense geopolitical turmoil and economic recession. Perhaps neoteny represents a subliminal desire to create objects of affection that comfort us in times of uncertainty. Perhaps neoteny represents a rejection of the rationalism and economy that has characterized the modern movement. There is copious evidence to suggest that neoteny acts simultaneously in both roles—as sublime marketing technique and subtle critique of contemporary consumer culture.

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March 05, 2019
- March 05, 2019

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