Paola Antonelli

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Paola Antonelli
Paola Antonelli in 2008.jpg
Antonelli at the Digital Life and Design Conference, Munich, 2008
Born1963 (age 58–59)
Occupationauthor, editor, and curator
Lecture by Paola Antonelli about Visions of Digital Creativity Organic Design at the World Economic Forum

Paola Antonelli (born 1963 in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy) is an Italian author, editor, architect, and curator. She is of Lombard ancestry.[1] She is currently the Senior Curator of the Department of Architecture & Design as well as the Director of R&D[2] at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City.[3]

Antonelli was recognized with an AIGA Medal in 2015 for "expanding the influence of design in everyday life by sharing fresh and incisive observations and curating provocative exhibitions at MoMA".[4] She was rated one of the one hundred most powerful people in the world of art by Art Review and Surface Magazine.[5]

Although a recipient of a laurea degree in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano university in 1990, she has never worked as an architect. Antonelli has curated several architecture and design exhibitions in Italy, France, and Japan. She has been a contributing editor for Domus magazine (1987–91) and the design editor of Abitare magazine (1992–94). She has also contributed articles to several publications, among them Metropolis, the Harvard Design Review, I.D. magazine, Paper, Metropolitan Home, Harper's Bazaar, and Nest. In 2014 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art.[6]



From 1991 to 1993, Antonelli was a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she taught design history and theory. In the spring of 2003, she started to teach a course of design theory at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She has also lectured elsewhere on design and architecture in Europe and the United States and served on several international architecture and design juries.

Curator at The Museum of Modern Art, New York[edit]

Antonelli joined MoMA in February 1994 and is a curator in the Department of Architecture and Design there. Her first high-profile exhibition for MoMA, "Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design" (1995), was followed by "Thresholds: Contemporary Design from the Netherlands" (1996), "Achille Castiglioni: Design!" (1997–98), "Projects 66: Campana/Ingo Maurer" (1999), "Open Ends," and "Matter" (September 2000-February 2001). Her exhibition "Workspheres" (2/8-4/22/2001) was devoted to the design of the workplace of the near future. In 2005 she curated the exhibition entitled "Safe: Design Takes on Risk" for MoMA.

She curated the exhibition entitled "Safe" in 2005 based on her show at the International Design Conference in Aspen (August 20–23, 2003), similarly entitled "Safe: Design Takes on Risk." Other recent projects include a book about food from the world over, as examples of distinctive design, and a television program on design. As a curator, Antonelli has added various video games to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art[7] and she has been attempting to include Boeing 747 in MoMA's permanent collection as well.[citation needed]

Together with Jamer Hunt, Antonelli established an installation entitled Design and Violence which focuses on the physical representation of some of humanity's most prominent features, such as sex, aggression, and smelliness. One piece, for example, is a vial of synthetic sweat. Of the exhibit, Antonelli says, "We wanted objects that have an ambiguous relationship with violence." Each object--an outline of a drone, a self-guided bullet, a stiletto--is selected to highlight both the beneficial and also the destructive side of design. Design is so multidimensional nowadays, and Antonelli and Hunt aimed to represent this.[8]

In 2017, Antonelli and Michelle Millar Fisher curated "Items: Is Fashion Modern?," an exhibition that explores 111 items of clothing and accessories that have had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries The Museum of Modern Art, New York [9] and taught a related massive open online course Fashion as Design.[10]

Design Philosophy[edit]

Paola Antonelli's objective is to change the perception of design, making sure that people are aware of the importance of design in every day life. She believes that design is an incredible expression of human creativity and that designers should feel responsibility towards the users they create for. Without design, innovation would be futile, because no one would be able to use any new inventions. She is frustrated by the misconception that design is just styling and feels that it is her job to help people realize that it is so much more. [11]


In an exhibit that featured video games such as Pac-Man, Tetris, and Minecraft, viewers are intended to actually play the games in order to showcase the interaction design of these products. The Guardian, for example, responded, "Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art".[12]



  • From Pyramids to Spacecraft[13]
  • Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects[14]
  • Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design [15]
  • "Achille Castiglioni"[16]
  • "Japanese Design"[17]
  • "Modern Contemporary"[18]
  • "Design the Elastic Mind"[19]
  • "Modern Contemporary; Art at MoMA Since 1980"[20]
  • Hella Jongerius – Misfit[21]
  • Pasta by Design – Forward[22]
  • Workspheres: Design and Contemporary Work Styles[23]
  • Margaret Helfand Architects – Introduction[24]
  • On the Table – On the American Table[25]
  • Safe: Design Takes on Risk – Grace Under Pressure[26]
  • Droog Design – Spirit of the Nineties[27]
  • No Discipline – Preface[28]
  • Items: Is Fashion Modern?[29]



  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2014-10-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Paola Antonelli Promoted to Senior Curator in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design. Archived 2011-10-07 at the Wayback Machine The Museum of Modern Art, 17 December 2007. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  4. ^ Pearlman, Chee. "Paola Antonelli". AIGA. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  5. ^ Bailey, Spencer. "Paola Antonelli". Surface Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Honorary Doctors". RCA. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  7. ^ Milot, Stephanie (2013-03-02). "MoMA Exhibit Showcases Video Games as Modern Art". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-09-08.
  8. ^ Garber, Megan (26 June 2014). "The Most Modern Curator". The Atlantic (in American English). Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  9. ^ "Items: Is Fashion Modern? | MoMA".
  10. ^ "Fashion as Design".
  11. ^ Burke, Anthony (4 December 2013). "Paola Antonelli interview: 'Design has been misconstrued as decoration'". The Conversation. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  12. ^ Garber, Megan (26 June 2014). "The Most Modern Curator". The Atlantic (in American English). Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  13. ^ Vittori, Arturo; Vogler, Andreas (2012). From Pyramids to Spacecraft (3rd ed.). Bormarzo, Italy. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-3-00-026959-2. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  14. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2011). Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 9780870707964.
  15. ^ Antonelli, Paola (May 25 – August 27, 1995). Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design. The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0870701312. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  16. ^ Antonelli, Paola; Guarnaccia, Steven (2000). Achille Castiglioni. Maurizio Corraini srl. p. 162. ISBN 88-87942-02-1.
  17. ^ Sparke, Penny (2009). Japanese Design (1st ed.). 11 West 53 Street New York New York 10019: The Museum of Modern Art. pp. 7–8, 143. ISBN 9780870707391.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  18. ^ Varnedoe, Kirk; Siegel, Joshua; Antonelli, Paola (January 30, 2001). Modern contemporary: art at MoMA since 1980. New York, New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-021-9.
  19. ^ Antonelli, Paola (May 12, 2008). Design and the Elastic Mind. New York, New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-732-2.
  20. ^ Antonelli, Paola (September 28, 2000). Modern Contemporary. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. p. 3. ISBN 0870700227.
  21. ^ Antonelli, Paola; Schouwenberg, Louise; Rawsthorn, Alice (16 February 2011). Hella Jongerius - Misfit. Phaidon Press. pp. 233–234. ISBN 978-0-7148-5987-3.
  22. ^ Legendre, George L. (2011). Pasta by Design. New York, New York: Thames & Hudson Inc. p. 007. ISBN 978-0-500-51580-8.
  23. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2001). Workspheres. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-013-8.
  24. ^ Antonelli, Paula (1999). Margaret Helfand Architects: Essential Architecture. New York: The Monacelli Press. pp. 006–011. ISBN 1-885254-93-8.
  25. ^ Robbins, Mark (1999). On the Table. Columbus: Wexner Center for the Arts. ISBN 1-881390-20-9.
  26. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2005). Safe: Design Takes on Risk. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-580-6.
  27. ^ Ramakers, Renny; Bakker, Gijs (1998). Droog Design: Spirit of the Nineties. 010 Publishers. ISBN 9789064503016.
  28. ^ Arad, Ron (2009). No Discipline. Paris: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-759-9.
  29. ^ "Fashion as Design".

30. Antonelli, Paola. Workspheres: Design and Contemporary Work Styles. Museum of Modern Art, 2001. 31. Antonelli, Paola, and Steven Guarnaccia. Achille Castiglioni. Corraini Editore, 2006.

External links[edit]