Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Necessity, Inspiration, and Invention

I returned to the Museum of Modern Art recently. Three of my husband’s photographs had been selected for the See Me exhibit now showing in Long Island City, Queens, New York so we made a holiday of the opening and toured some of our favorite places in New York.

Manhattan as seen from windows overlooking the MOMA courtyard © CoachConnye

Of course, we returned to the three large Monet paintings on permanent display at MOMA, and we couldn’t skip photography. The current exhibit, Shadow & Light, is Bill Brandt’s vision of 1930s London. I recommend it and the photographer highly.

One of our favorite exhibits was Applied Design, an area inspired by necessity. Massoud Hassani, a designer from Afghanistan, turned his childhood inventions into a gift for all mankind.

As a child in a war-torn region, Hassani collected the detritus of war and created toys for himself and other children. One rolling toy inspired the Mine Detonator now on display. Using bamboo and biodegradable products, Hassani’s toy for grown-ups and a safer world will not leave behind traces of itself. In fact, if any parts are destroyed when deployed, they are replaceable, making the detonator one of the most eco-friendly and cost-effective tools of war.

Like a child's ball, this much larger version rolls across the land, triggering and rendering land mines (IEDs) useless for their intended targets: human beings, including and worst all all, children. Hassaini’s invention saves lives.

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Another design team, Ido Bruno and Arthur Brutter, reimagined school desks, making them protective shelters and passageways for children to survive earthquakes. Children can scoot under the desk--as they are most often trained to do--but these desks will actually withstand what falls from above. In addition, if enough time and conditions allow, the desks can be placed end to end, giving children safe passage to a clear area and ideally, out of the rubble.

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What elegance these two designs reveal: A mind that overcomes tragedy to create hope and promise for unnamed millions and a testament to the angel within the human heart.