Paola Antonelli

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Paola Antonelli
Antonelli at the Digital Life and Design Conference, Munich, 2008
Born1963 (age 59–60)
EducationPolytechnic University of Milan (Architecture)
Occupation(s)Author, editor, and educator
Organization(s)Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
TitleSenior Curator of Architecture & Design
Director of Research & Development
Lecture by Paola Antonelli about Visions of Digital Creativity Organic Design at the World Economic Forum

Paola Antonelli (born 1963) is an Italian architect, curator, author, editor, and educator. Antonelli is the Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, where she also serves as the founding Director of Research and Development. She has been described as "one of the 25 most incisive design visionaries in the world" by TIME magazine.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Antonelli was born in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy. She attended and graduated from the Politecnico di Milano University in Milan, from which she received a laurea degree in architecture in 1990. Notwithstanding her training, she has never worked as an architect.[2][3]

Work and career[edit]

After graduating from university, Antonelli curated several architecture and design exhibitions in Italy, France, and Japan.[citation needed] She was a contributing editor for Domus magazine from 1987 to 1991, then from 1992 to 1994 she was the design editor of Abitare magazine. She has also contributed articles to publications such as the Harvard Design Magazine, Metropolis, I.D., Paper, Metropolitan Home, Harper's Bazaar, and Nest.[citation needed]


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 in design theory at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She has also lectured elsewhere[citation needed] on design and architecture in Europe and the United States and served on several international architecture and design juries.[4][5]

Curator at The Museum of Modern Art[edit]

Antonelli joined MoMA in February 1994 as a curator in the Department of Architecture and Design. The first important exhibition at the museum curated by Antonelli opened in 1995 and was titled Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design. This was followed in 1996 by Thresholds: Contemporary Design from the Netherlands; Achille Castiglioni: Design! in 1997 (through 1998); Projects 66: Campana/Ingo Maurer in 1999; Open Ends and Matter (September 2000 – February 2001). Her 2001 exhibition Workspheres was devoted to the design of the workplace of the near future. In 2005 she curated the exhibition entitled Safe: Design Takes on Risk also at 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 worldwide, 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[6] and she has been attempting to include Boeing 747 in MoMA's permanent collection as well.[7]

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 destructive side of design. Design is 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[9] and taught a related massive open online course (MOOC) titled Fashion as Design.[10]

In an exhibit featuring video games such as Pac-Man, Tetris, and Minecraft, viewers are intended to actually play the games to showcase the interaction design of these products. The Guardian, for example, responded, "Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art".[11]

She has said that she believes that "design has been kind of neglected or misconstrued as decoration or as an embellishment" and has described her work as an attempt to change that misperception, further saying that "Without designers, life would not happen because any kind of scientific or technological innovation gets filtered by design and becomes part of our life. Without designers, we couldn’t use microwaves, we couldn’t use the internet, we couldn’t use so many innovations.[12][13]

Recognition and awards[edit]

In 2014, Antonelli was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Royal College of Art.[14] She 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".[15] She was named one of the 100 most powerful people in the world of art by Art Review and Surface Magazine.[16] She also received honorary degrees from Kingston University in London, ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, and Pratt Institute in New York.[17] She received the following distinctions: 2006 National Design Award,[18] Cooper Hewitt (Smithsonian Institution);[19] 2007 TIME magazine design visionaries;[20] 2010 Lucky Strike Designer Award [de] (Raymond Loewy Foundation); 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, Art Directors Club (ADC);[21] 2019 American Academy in Rome honouree;[22] 2020 London Design Medal;[23] and the 2021 German Design Award Personality of the Year.[24]



  • Antonelli, Paola (1995). Mutant materials in contemporary design. Eric Baker, Gaetano Pesce, Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-131-2. OCLC 33048895.[25]
  • Achille Castiglioni: Design! [26]
  • Vittori, Arturo; Antonelli, Paola; Vogler, Andreas (2009). Architecture and vision: from pyramids to spacecraft. Italian Cultural Institute. ISBN 978-3-00-026959-2 OCLC 434052580.[27]
  • Antonelli, Paola (2011). Talk to me: design and the communication between people and objects. Museum of Modern Art. New York, N.Y.: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-796-4 OCLC 721928452.[28]
  • Antonelli, Paola (2000). Achille Castiglioni. Steven Guarnaccia (1. ed ed.). Mantova: Corraini. ISBN 88-87942-02-1 OCLC 47283354[29]
  • Museum of Modern Art (2000). Modern contemporary: art at MoMA since 1980. Kirk Varnedoe, Paola Antonelli, Joshua Siegel. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-021-9 OCLC 48045632[30]
  • Design and the elastic mind. Paola Antonelli, Museum of Modern Art. New York: Museum of Modern Art. 2008. ISBN 978-0-87070-732-2. OCLC 780473124.[31]
  • Pakhalé, Satyendra (2002). Satyendra Pakhalé, cultural nomad: from projects to products = dal progetto al prodotto. Ingeborg de Roode, Alberto Alessi, Amsterdam. Stedelijk Museum. [Milan]: Editoriale Modo. ISBN 88-7419-002-6 OCLC 642828852.[32]
  • Museum of Modern Art (2000). Modern contemporary: art at MoMA since 1980. Kirk Varnedoe, Paola Antonelli, Joshua Siegel. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-021-9. OCLC 48045632[33]
  • Jongerius, Hella (2010). Hella Jongerius : misfit. Irma Boom, Louise Schouwenberg, Alice Rawsthorn, Paola Antonelli. London: Phaidon. ISBN 978-0-7148-5987-3 OCLC 668199062.[34]
  • Sparke, Penny (2009). Japanese design (1st ed.). New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-739-1. OCLC 276334220.[35]
  • Antonelli, Paola (2001). Workspheres : design and contemporary work styles. Department of Architecture and Design. New York, N.Y.: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-013-8 OCLC 46491049.[36]
  • Antonelli, Paola (2005). Safe: design takes on risk. Museum of Modern Art. New York, N.Y.: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-580-6 OCLC 61217850.[37]
  • Helfand, Margaret; Antonelli, Paola (1999). Margaret Helfand Architects : essential architecture. New York: Monacelli Press. ISBN 1-885254-93-8 OCLC 39923042.[38]
  • Rawsthorn, Alice; Antonelli, Paola (2022). Design emergency : building a better future. London. ISBN 978-1-83866-427-5 OCLC 1308475961.[39][40]


  • Pasta by Design – Forward[41]
  • On the Table – On the American Table[42]
  • Droog Design – Spirit of the Nineties[43]
  • No Discipline – Preface[44]
  • Items: Is Fashion Modern?[10]
  • "Satyendra Pakhalé Culture of Creation"[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, and Director, Research and Development". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2003-04-03.
  2. ^ Matarrese, Antonella (2013-05-22). "Paola Antonelli, lady design al Moma –". (in Italian). Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  3. ^ Capps, Kriston (2012-10-09). "Paola Antonelli Discusses R&D at the Museum of Modern Art". The Journal of the American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  4. ^ "Dezeen Awards 2020 judges include Norman Foster and Paola Antonelli". Dezeen. 2020-02-05. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  5. ^ "London Design Biennale Jury". London Design Biennale. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2022-10-22.
  6. ^ Mlot, Stephanie (2013-03-02). "MoMA Exhibit Showcases Video Games as Modern Art". PC Magazine. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  7. ^ "Paola Antonelli on Curating, MoMA's Collection, and Design Today: A Reddit AMA Recap". 11 March 2015.
  8. ^ Garber, Megan (26 June 2014). "The Most Modern Curator". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  9. ^ "Items: Is Fashion Modern?". Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  10. ^ a b "Fashion as Design". Coursera (Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)).
  11. ^ Garber, Megan (26 June 2014). "Sorry MoMA, Video Games Are Not Art". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  12. ^ Burke, Anthony (4 December 2013). "Paola Antonelli interview: 'Design has been misconstrued as decoration'". The Conversation. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Q+A with MoMA's Paola Antonelli". Australian Design Review. 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2023-05-03.
  14. ^ "Honorands, Royal College of Art". RCA Website. Retrieved 2022-10-15.
  15. ^ Pearlman, Chee. "Paola Antonelli". AIGA. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  16. ^ Bailey, Spencer. "Surface Magazine Power 100, Paola Antonelli". Surface Magazine. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  17. ^ "PAOLA ANTONELLI". London Design Biennale. 2019-04-04. Retrieved 2022-10-14.
  18. ^ "An Ambassador for Design – BAIA Link". 2016-08-03. Archived from the original on 2016-08-03. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  19. ^ "2006 National Design Award Winners | Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum". 2019-09-24. Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  20. ^ "Style & Design: Visionaries – TIME". Time. 2007-08-14. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  21. ^ "Paola Antonelli". ADC • Global Awards & Club. Retrieved 2022-10-14.
  22. ^ Rome, American Academy in. "A Starry Night Honoring Paola Antonelli and Luca Guadagnino". American Academy in Rome. Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  23. ^ "Paola Antonelli, Ken Garland, Ellen MacArthur, Yinka Ilori awarded the 2020 London Design Medals". World Architecture Community. Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  24. ^ "German Design Awards 2021: "All Eyes On" – Presentation of this year's winning projects and the "Newcomer of the Year"". Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  25. ^ Antonelli, Paola (May 25 – August 27, 1995). Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design. The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-131-2. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  26. ^ "Achille Castiglioni: Design! | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2022-10-12.
  27. ^ 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.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  28. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2011). Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-796-4.
  29. ^ Antonelli, Paola; Guarnaccia, Steven (2000). Achille Castiglioni. Maurizio Corraini srl. p. 162. ISBN 88-87942-02-1.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Antonelli, Paola (May 12, 2008). Design and the Elastic Mind. New York, New York: Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-732-2.
  32. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2002). Satyendra Pakhalé Dal progetto al pradotto. Editoriale Modo, Milano, Italy. p. 256. ISBN 88-7419-002-6.
  33. ^ Antonelli, Paola (September 28, 2000). Modern Contemporary. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. p. 3. ISBN 0-87070-022-7.
  34. ^ Antonelli, Paola; Schouwenberg, Louise; Rawsthorn, Alice (16 February 2011). Hella Jongerius – Misfit. Phaidon Press. pp. 233–234. ISBN 978-0-7148-5987-3.
  35. ^ Sparke, Penny (2009). Japanese Design (1st ed.). New York: The Museum of Modern Art. pp. 7–8, 143. ISBN 978-0-87070-739-1.
  36. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2001). Workspheres. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-013-8.
  37. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2005). Safe: Design Takes on Risk. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 0-87070-580-6.
  38. ^ Antonelli, Paula (1999). Margaret Helfand Architects: Essential Architecture. New York: The Monacelli Press. pp. 006–011. ISBN 1-885254-93-8.
  39. ^ "Design Emergency | Design | Store | Phaidon". Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  40. ^ "Rawsthorn and Antonelli: there will always be a design emergency | Salone del Mobile". Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  41. ^ Legendre, George L. (2011). Pasta by Design. New York, New York: Thames & Hudson Inc. p. 007. ISBN 978-0-500-51580-8.
  42. ^ Robbins, Mark (1999). On the Table. Columbus: Wexner Center for the Arts. ISBN 1-881390-20-9.
  43. ^ Ramakers, Renny; Bakker, Gijs (1998). Droog Design: Spirit of the Nineties. 010 Publishers. ISBN 978-90-6450-301-6.
  44. ^ Arad, Ron (2009). No Discipline. Paris: The Museum of Modern Art. ISBN 978-0-87070-759-9.
  45. ^ Antonelli, Paola (2019). Satyendra Pakhalé Culture of Creation. nai01 Publishers, Rotterdam, NL. p. 448. ISBN 978-94-6208-514-5.

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]