Design And Counter Design Against Consumption: 1972 “Italy, The New Domestic Landscape” Exhibition

Boysan, Aysu
Mutlu Tunca, Gülru
In Western Europe, the 1960s and 1970s covered the radical criticism of some European designers against mass production and consumption. Several Italian Radical designers raised the most compelling objection at an exhibition on the other side of the ocean: “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (INDL), curated by Emilio Ambasz in the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1972. INDL marked a significant moment in contemporary design history. For the show, Ambasz selected more than a hundred “objects” produced by Italian manufacturers and displayed them in specially designed cases in the garden area. Moreover, he invited eleven Italian designers to create unique “microenvironments” by interpreting concepts assigned by a “special design program,” such as environmental psychology, locality, urbanism, micro and macro-scale housing, consumerism, and mass production. Although the “objects” displayed in the garden were of great importance - since the event was one of the first instances of Italian design’s introduction to the American public- this study concentrates on the contradicting responses of Italian designers, under headings “design and counterdesign as postulation” for understanding the design philosophy behind the appearance of “design versus non-design” dialectics of that era, which is still a recognized topic in contemporary architectural theory. This study, therefore, analyzes the eclectic and postmodern approaches of six Italian designers in the “design” category and the provocative denials of Radical designers presented under the “counterdesign” category. It aims to understand better the impact of this discursive opposition made visible by the exhibition on the anti- consumerist approaches and the search for alternative methodologies, which subsequently increased among designers.
Citation Formats
A. Boysan and G. Mutlu Tunca, “Design And Counter Design Against Consumption: 1972 “Italy, The New Domestic Landscape” Exhibition,” ODTÜ Mimarlık Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 151–174, 2023, Accessed: 00, 2023. [Online]. Available: