Watch MoMA Curator Paola Antonelli School Stephen Colbert on Applied Design

Last night Paola Antonelli, the Museum of Modern Art‘s senior curator in the department of architecture and design, put in an appearance on “The Colbert Report” to tell host Stephen Colbert about hew new exhibition, “Applied Design.” In the brief conversation Antonelli managed to give Colbert a very clear and concise crash course in contemporary design, outlining the distinction between theoretical and applied design, and explaining that “we are post-post-post-modern, present, pre-future, but a little of future today, with history that comes with us.”

Among the objects the pair discusses are Afghan designer Massoud Hassani‘s “Mine Kafon” (above), the wind-powered de-mining device that MoMA recently acquired, and an earthquake-proof table equipped with shock absorbers. Though Colbert makes a big deal of the museum’s recent acquisition of 14 vintage video games in his intro — which are included in “Applied Design” — the two never discuss Tetris’s place in the history of contemporary design. They manage to briefly discuss the show’s conspicuous prop coffee mug, of which the curator says: “Oh yes, it is… Could be better, but it’s design.”

Antonelli does, however, offer Colbert this advice to live by: “Be yourself, be in the moment, you’re going to be modern.”


— Benjamin Sutton