Paola Antonelli on Design as the Interface Between Progress and Humanity

Paola Antonelli — Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the MoMA, longtime proponent of humanized technology, self-described “curious octopus” — has arguably done more for the mainstream infiltration of design literacy than any other individual in contemporary culture. In her recent opening keynote at the unequivocally titled media and ideas conference The Conference in Malmö, Sweden, Antonelli pulls the curtain on her curatorial process and, with her signature on-stage charisma, takes a revealing look at how her shows go about the incredible balancing act of being both beacons of the bleeding edge of design and an approachable education platform for instilling in the general public a basic understanding of the fundamental importance of design — something she describes as “push[ing] design down from the realm of art and up from the realm of decoration and prettification into real life.”

“What designers do is they take revolutions that happen maybe in science or technology or politics, and they transform them into objects that you and I can use, that you and I can feel some familiarity or at least some curiosity about, so we can be drawn in and we can start a new life and a new behavioral pattern. And this idea of designers as the interface of progress, between progress and humanity, is what I try to stay with.” ~ Paola Antonelli

Antonelli’s excellent new show, Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects, is on display at the MoMA through November 7.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

Biblioburro: Library on a Donkey

For more than a decade, Luis Soriano, a primary school teacher, has traveled the rugged terrain of Colombia by donkey, delivering books to children in hundreds of rural villages. The project, powered by his two donkeys Alfa and Beto, goes by the name “Biblioburro.” And it seeks to promote literacy in areas where access to books is not always a given. You can find more information and pictures on the homepage of the Biblioburro project and also make a small donation. A video update shows what these donations are actually used for.

Bonus material: The clip above is part of a 60-minute PBS documentary available in full here. If you are a teacher and want to work with the film in class, you will appreciate this related lesson plan. Biblioburro has even been covered by The New York Times, and there is now a similar project underway in Ethiopia.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.