The Harvard Graduate School of Design’s eighth annual Platform exhibition is now on view in Gund Hall’s first-floor main gallery. Parallel to the GSD’s annual Platform publication, the exhibition presents a curated selection of work generated in the previous academic year at the school.
Alongside final products of design education, the Platform 8 exhibition and publication place particular emphasis on collecting and documenting the people and artifacts that shape research-driven design practices. In other words, design is presented both as process and as a final product.
The Platform publication is edited by a different GSD faculty member each year and conceptually scaffolds the related exhibition. Platform 8: An Index of Design & Research was edited by Zaneta Hong (MLA ’07), lecturer in landscape architecture.
Hong structured the book as an encyclopedic survey in which term entries, each connected to a particular activity or item at the school (including events, courses, publications, and research centers), are presented alphabetically rather than hierarchically. Thus, Hong writes in the Letter from the Editor, the book documents both scholarly discourse and material production as concomitant artifacts of practice, education, and research.
Terms and definitions are punctuated with a collection of portraits and other images throughout the book. The presentation allows for interpretation, imagination, and organizational salience around each term and activity.
“For me, this publication is an effort to simultaneously present an archaeological documentation into the working concepts of design and research—a reveal, exposing a particular moment of design culture at the Harvard GSD—and to provide a projective platform for defining new possibilities,” Hong writes.
The concept translates directly to the multimedia Platform 8 exhibition and is enriched by tangible objects and visuals, bringing the catalog to life.
The word “Prosthetic,” for instance, appears in the Platform 8 publication with a brief dictionary definition of the word, then followed by a description of professor in residence Krzysztof Wodiczko’s Fall 2014 course “Architecture of Cultural Prosthetics: Tools for Communication and Expression in the Public Space” and illustrated by models produced by the class. The entry for the term “Pavilion” defines the word and then describes the 2015 Design Miami/Harvard GSD Pavilion competition, illustrating the winning GSD project, “Unbuilt,” and naming the four finalist teams.
In the exhibition, the term “Prosthetic” is marked with a curatorial index card beside physical models of prosthesis and prosthetic devices, as well as a video; “Pavilion” is accompanied by a large rendering of “Unbuilt.” Student models and research from all GSD disciplines are presented throughout the exhibition.
The Platform 8 exhibition fills the Gund Hall main gallery, and is free and open to the public through May 13.