SAFE: Design Takes On Risk

"SAFE: Design Takes On Risk presents more than 300 contemporary products and prototypes designed to protect body and mind from dangerous or stressful circumstances, respond to emergencies, ensure clarity of information, and provide a sense of comfort and security. These objects address the spectrum of human fears and worries, from the most mundane to the most exceptional, from the dread of darkness and loneliness to the threat of earthquakes and terrorist attacks.

The exhibition covers all forms of design, from manufactured products to information architecture. Featured products include refugee shelters, demining equipment, baby strollers, and protective sports gear. Designers are trained to balance risk with protection and to mediate between disruptive change and normalcy; good design goes hand in hand with personal needs, providing protection and security without sacrificing innovation and invention. SAFE redirects the pursuit of beauty toward the appreciation of economy of function and technology." (via)


Playmobil's Police Van and Security Check Point for kids who want to learn about The Man.

Update 21/09/05

MoMA's Safety Check: A conversation with exhibition curator Paola Antonelli

"You've mentioned cultural elements that came into play when researching concepts of safety. Can you tell me more about the differences you found?

It's all about culture, as contemporary design's closest scholarly ally is anthropology. So for example, in Israel safety means rubber-sealed shelters to protect from blasts and chemicals. In Bangladesh it means finding drinkable water. In South Africa it means spreading awareness about AIDS and beating the government's efforts to tell people that HIV drugs have no effect. In other parts of Africa it means providing moveable hospitals that don't look like hospitals, so others don't identify the women that go to them as HIV-positive or disease carriers. Here in the United States it means understanding what safety is for you and what it is for companies.

How do politics affect these designs?

Design and politics are intertwined, but often seem far from each other because the aesthetics of design neutralize the political discussion that you can have about it. But when you talk about safety, politics goes splat in the middle of the discussion. For instance, homeless shelters are all about politics; and with refugees, they are displaced persons, and that involves the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. When you get to safety and bulletproofing, that immediately becomes Homeland Security or activism. When you get to property, well, it's the kind of politics you have at home."