And because the exhibit -- Why Design Now? -- was so darn inspiring.
First of all, we got into the show for free! The usual entry cost is something like $16 USD, but it so happened that they were letting folks in for free during the exact week of our trip. Thanks to New York Magazine for letting us know about the deal. (If you go to NYC for fun, pick up a copy of the mag while you're there. It's a great resource and will tell you about stuff that real New Yorkers do - as opposed to the usual tourist things.)
Audio tours were also free (as long as you have a decent photo I.D. to surrender in exchange for an iTouch). The audio tours really made all the difference. There was a lot to see and take in and being able to hear the artists speak and watch videos about how the products worked really helped me process it all.
Without the iTouch, I would have felt burnt out much sooner and would have missed a lot of great stuff about the exhibit, like this amazing, solar-powered sun shade that is both a lamp and an umbrella and opens and closes itself like a flower:
The glaring question of WHY these products AREN'T being made. Why are they mere prototypes? Why are so few of them actually available. WHY!? Imagine "invisible" solar street lights, environmentally friendly resins that mimic plastic, paper made of sheep's poo, biodegradeable food containers that can be microwaved and reused, silk that is harvested without killing the silk worm. Imagine it. See it. Read and hear about how possible and tangible it could be. And then ask yourself, as I did, WHY we aren't taking advantage of it, right now.
The glum, jaded skeptic in me thinks that the sad truth is that ethics don't sell. Many of these products mean consuming fewer resources, and frankly, spending less money. And the corporate machine doesn't want us to do that. Innovations like these mean change, and big companies and bullshit superstores don't like change. They live to preserve and growing the business they've already got. Who cares if we're all destroying the world, exploiting other cultures and making a market for sweat-shop labour, right? Sigh.
Why Design Now? is not really now, unfortunately. And that is a depressing thought.
Still, on the bright side, it's a great exhibit if you're interested in sustainability, design and innovation and a nice change from what you'll see at many big museums and galleries in New York. And maybe it will remind you of what is possible. If more of us got on board, we might actually be able to move forward and make real products instead of mere prototypes. It could all be very exciting. :)