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Postwar Milan began booming in the ’50s. Modern factories were churning out Fiats and Ferraris, Olivetti typewriters and Pirelli tires. Plastic suddenly became a chic, colorful material. Italians were tired of old traditions and inherited forms. Enough with history! Basta! The Ballos were commercial photographers who took product shots, an inelegant term for often elegant telephones, chairs, and other consumer goods. They weren’t really designers, like Charles and Ray Eames, but evangelists for good design. Before Americans or Europeans could buy new creations by Ettore Sottsass or Alberto Alessi, for instance, they first saw those images in imported Italian magazines and catalogs—presented in the best possible light, which was the Ballos’ job. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, and here making its only stop in the U.S., “Zoom” includes some 300 images from the Ballos, plus some of the products, posters, magazines, and other objects of their era. It’s very much a browser’s show, ranging from the ’50s through the unfortunate Memphis-studio design eruption of the ’80s, part of the mix-and-match postmodernist moment. But you needn’t follow any chronological pattern. It’s more interesting to make associations among the objects, these artifacts that once promised to modernize our home and office lives. The dominant aesthetic isn’t exactly mid-century modernism but something closer to a sleek, space-age futurism. There’s a fundamental optimism to each new product line, each new sales year. BRIAN MILLER
Examining the rise of the "lucky cat" from "talisman to pop icon," this exhibition highlights selections from a collection of 155 figures in wood, ...
Take my money! Why won’t you take my money? In case you haven’t noticed, our economy is moving to a frictionless, cashless system. We pay by debit ...
Strapped for cash? BAM offers free admission every first Friday of the month. Here's your chance to check out the museum's current shows, Love Me T...
Students of all ages can visit BAM for free on the second Wednesday of every month.
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