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Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher Curates “Designed in California” at SFMOMA

When SFMOMA reopened in spring 2016, Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher began as the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design. She’s been with the museum since 2008, serving as assistant curator from 2008 to 2013, and associate curator from 2013 to 2015. Her forte is exhibiting design as it intersects with technology—and we see that in the museum’s current “Designed in California” exhibition, which includes a Macintosh computer, a Lisa Krohn Cyberdesk, and a Martin Bone prototype of Q Concept.

With a scholarly eye for design, Dunlop Fletcher is leading San Francisco back to the valley of tech, but in an approachable, artistic way.

Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher

Photo by Andria Lo.
Courtesy of Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher.

WHITEWALLER: Where did your interest in the intersection of design and technology begin?

JENNIFER DUNLOP FLETCHER: Digital tools are unavoidable in all disciplines of design and will alter how we exhibit design moving forward, which is so exciting for the museum. We are contributing to a significant period of collecting, displaying, engaging with, and preserving contemporary design.

Hartmut Esslinger.
Prototype for Apple Macintosh touch-screen tablet.
Courtesy of SFMOMA.

WW: Can you tell us a bit about “Designed in California”—the exhibition you’ve curated, open in January?

JDF: The exhibition is an opportunity to look at the last 50 years of design emerging from California. It will feature various movements that have contributed to the perception of the state as leading a futurist approach—[one] that acknowledges the capacity of digital technologies while still being guided by an idealism of a better and more equitable lifestyle.

Susan Kare.
Sketch for graphic user interface for General Magic.
Courtesy of SFMOMA.

WW: What else is on view at the museum right now that’s not to be missed?

JDF: We have two special exhibitions on view—a Walker Evans retrospective that focuses on the photographer’s fascination with American vernacular design, and “Robert Rauschenberg: Erasing the Rules,” which highlights the artist’s engagement with fellow artists, dancers, composers, engineers, and technologists.

Walker Evans

Walker Evans, Truck and Sign, 1928–30; gelatin silver print; private collection, San Francisco; © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Courtesy of SFMOMA.

Also, don’t miss “Get with the Action: Political Posters from the 1960s to Now”—an installation of protest posters spanning over 60 years of political and social movements. Each poster is a powerful representation of urgency and agency through careful juxtaposition of image and text.

WW: What do you think is the next big movement, or pioneering a new wave now?

Robert Rauschenberg, Retroactive I, 1963; oil and silkscreen ink on canvas; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.
Gift of Susan Morse Hilles; © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Courtesy of SFMOMA.

JDF: Biodesign is dangerously close.

WW: Who or what is currently underrated in the art world?

JDF: Designers who are not working in the commercial realm are typically underrated. I am finding there are a few equally potent areas of design—artificial intelligence and the Internet of things are well known, well supported financially, and loom large in popular imagination. At the same time, the fields of critical design and impact design, while a bit outside of the mainstream, are providing an equally relevant and strong voice.

WW: For those in San Francisco now for FOG Design+Art and Untitled, what are some destinations to be sure and visit? Any favorite places to see art or dine?

JDF: The David Ireland House at 500 Capp Street. The Interval at Fort Mason is great place for a special cocktail and future-thinking conversation. Boulettes Larder and Quince remain favorite places for great food and beautiful design.




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