How 'Designed In California' Became The New 'Made In Italy'

03/14/2017 02:59 pm ET Updated Mar 15, 2017

For Architectural Digest, by Stephanie Strasnick.

Snap Inc.’s stylish, memory-making Spectacles.
Courtesy of Snap Inc.
Snap Inc.’s stylish, memory-making Spectacles.

Through its 1960s counterculture movement to the present-day tech culture boom, the Golden State has given rise to some of the 20th and 21st century’s most recognizable — and sought after — product, logo and fashion designs. “California,” an upcoming exhibition at London’s Design Museum, celebrates these pioneering California-born products — ranging from self-driving cars to personal computers to pocket-size Snap Inc. smartglasses — that are feats of form and function and promote personal autonomy and self-expression.

<em>Afro-American Solidarity with the oppressed People of the World</em>, 1969, by Minister of Culture for the Black Panther
Courtesy of London Design Museum
Afro-American Solidarity with the oppressed People of the World, 1969, by Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, Emory Douglas.

Though California’s achievements in midcentury modernism have been thoroughly chronicled through exhibitions and scholarship, the state’s more recent global design appeal is being documented for the first time in this exhibition.

In response to the country’s 1944 housing shortage, architect and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller sought to improve the ways h
Courtesy of The Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller/Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio
In response to the country’s 1944 housing shortage, architect and inventor R. Buckminster Fuller sought to improve the ways human shelter was designed and produced. His work in this field included designing the geodesic dome (patent seen above).

Divided in five thematic parts, “California” showcases designs that promote movement and escape, bend perceptions of reality, inspire self-expression and rebellion, breed collaboration with community and encourage users to rely on themselves.

Graphic designer Susan Kare conceived numerous interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. Her personal notebook
Courtesy of London Design Museum
Graphic designer Susan Kare conceived numerous interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. Her personal notebook, seen above, is part of this exhibition.

While some of the 200 objects in this presentation are to be expected — such as the Apple I computer and the first consumer GPS device — there are some surprises in store, too. Among the show’s more unexpected objects are psychedelic LSD blotting papers, an at-home genetic engineering kit and Twitter’s interface design.

An at-home, DIY Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR Kit by The ODIN.
Courtesy of London Design Museum
An at-home, DIY Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR Kit by The ODIN.

"California" is curated by Justin McGuirk and Brendan McGetrick and opens May 24.

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