In what may come to be known as the most superfi cial exhibition in history, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in Manhattan is opening a show on May 14 dedicated entirely to the examination of skin. But some things that may appear shallovv often contain untold depths. “Skin is something that we used to hear about only in Science,” said Ellen Lupton, curator of con temporary design, who organized “Skin: Surface, Substance + Design.” “But in design and in fashion, skin is being talked about as a product, as the surface of architecture.
Culturally, skin is on our mind.” The exhibit covers a lot of ground: furniture made of soft polyurethane that feels like human flesh and provocative examples from fashion, like latex dresses or a vinyl jacket with hard plastic pro trusions. More thought provoking, hovvever, is the examination of how advancements in plastic sur gery and even human cloning have changed the per ception of skin.
“There’s a part of the show that is set up like a bathroom, with shelves filled with cosmeceuticals,” Lupton said. “Skin care products today are designed to look like prescriptive medicine. At another time, skin care products were designed to look strictly rich and huotrious, but now people think they’re going to change their skin at a biological level.”
The fashion industry as tourist attraction? With talk of a Vegas fashion cabaret, the Fashion Walk of Fame and a design exhibit ali about skin, you’d better start lining up.