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MoMA Envisions A Future In Which Designers Become Political Philosophers

Published by Forbes on Mon, 23 Mar 2015


Forget about Mac versus PC. If you want to experience true incompatibility, try playing with Legos and Tinkertoys. Or Tinkertoys and K'Nex. Or K'Nex and Lincoln Logs. Though each of these playthings is supposed to give free reign to children's imagination, they'll only work within their own branded system. Some, such as K'Nex, are protected under patent. So several years ago a design collective called F.A.T. Lab created the Free Universal Construction Kit, a set of eighty adapter blocks that can connect pieces from ten of the most popular building toys. To facilitate universal distribution, they made the blocks freely available online as files that could be output on any 3D printer. One set was downloaded and output by the Museum of Modern Art, and added to MoMA's venerable design collection. It's now on view as part of a new exhibition of "design experiments for the common good". Other works range from a diagnostic lung-on-a-chip engineered by the Weiss Institute to the open-source Arduino microprocessor to the ubiquitous Kikkoman soy sauce bottle.... Essay by Jonathon Keats.
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