Having a product carried by the MoMA Design Store has long been a career-defining achievement for designers, even in a time when cultural relevance seems to be increasingly measured by clicks and likes—but then again, not every museum is known for acquiring digital, immaterial objects like the “@” symbol. The museum’s retail arm is arguably as legendary as its galleries, with a range of inventory that ambitiously covers both the historic and contemporary, the collectible and disposable, the functional and frivolous–and the complete and surprising oddball, like the recent addition of a “beachy-keen” inflatable sailboat by the French company Tiwal.
Seen alongside items from the store’s inventory of canonical design that includes a limited-edition colorway of De Stijl icon Gerrit Rietveld‘s Red and Blue Chair, Issey Miyake’s geometric Bao Bao tote, and a toaster by Gae Aulenti, the inflatable sailboat made me wonder: Just what does it take to get into the MoMA Design Store? What do the high priests of modern museum retail consider to be good design–and to what end?
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