Looking forward to 2013

What happens behind the scenes when a museum’s home is being prepared? Aside from presenting pop-up exhibits, MakeArt workshops, and hosting open forums with classes from CCA, researching and program planning for future exhibits are critical tasks.


One reconnaissance mission was held in November as MCD staff invaded SOFA Chicago. Our executive director and curator led a round table discussion with other museum directors and curators from around the country. Programming ideas were shared and contacts were exchanged. This type of networking strengthens all organizations involved. Roaming the vast Navy Pier exhibition area provided more opportunities for connecting with other museum professionals as well as gallery owners, collectors and of course, discovering “new” artists. Some of these discoveries, many of which were stunning examples of well-crafted design, will find their way to future MCD exhibits.




Our new exhibition space, with a custom-built movable interior wall system, will be thoroughly flexible, enabling us to reconfigure the size and shape of exhibit galleries as needed. The Museum will have the versatility to bring a wide spectrum of creative presentations to our community, allowing us to display concurrent exhibits, or, if desired, open up our space to one large solo installation. We’ll also have a dedicated workshop space—a permanent home for MakeArt—and a fabulous new Museum store stocked with some amazing craft and design goodies. (Just a heads-up: the curator has seen some of this inventory as it arrived at our holding space, and he might be first in line on opening day.)


Our first series of exhibits are already lined up to inaugurate our long overdue new home. The centerpiece will be the grand homecoming of the MCD-organized Michael Cooper: A Sculptural Odyssey, 1968-2011, featuring surreal, technically amazing sculptural objects. Showing at the same time will be the installation work of renowned artist Arline Fisch and another unique installation by the immensely talented and rule-breaking artist Rebecca Hutchinson. These exhibitions promise some surprises in their novel approaches to materials. And here’s a “leak”: If you like mid century furniture design, you might want to note a future exhibit to be announced later in our calendar. (Could it be Herman Miller?)


So what about after that? I’m not revealing secrets, but our programming strategy is direct: bring the highest quality of craft and design driven exhibits to our community that we possibly can within our means; exhibits that not only illustrate ideas, but also ask questions and inspire conversations. We’ll present works and projects by the courageous explorers of traditional as well as unexpected mediums. We’ll engage designers whose purpose has never been to conform, but to challenge or to change a way of doing, seeing, thinking – sometimes only to provoke. We are quite likely to present craft and design works that you may not even recognize as such.


Get ready, this is going to be fun!


Marc D’Estout, curator


Almost Out of the Woods

A week from this Friday, on August 24th, the Museum of Craft and Design will pop up in the Dogpatch. No, we’re not announcing our forthcoming new space early. Instead, we’re partnering with John Warner of the Dogpatch Café and Art Gallery to take over the programming of their Gallery space for two months.


We’ll be spending that time spotlighting our core mission and extending our reach. I’ve curated an exhibition, entitled Almost Out of the Woods, which features the works of six emerging and established contemporary artists working with and in wood.


My emphasis on contemporary wood art and design comes directly from our mission, which always drives our programming. As The Museum of Craft and Design, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to showcase the best in craft and design, and also to feature artists whose works highlight the wonderful contributions they are making to their creative fields right now!


This exhibition will feature six exceptional artists: Michael Cooper, Forest Dickey, Donald Fortescue, Lawrence LaBianca, Yvonne Mouser and Adrien Segal.


We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with these artists in this space. We are excited to be popping up in the Dogpatch, and we know that the pop up model is one that we believe allows us to energize and engage our community.


Please join us to meet the artists and experience our pop up. There will be a reception at the Dogpatch Café and Art Gallery, 2295 Third Street, San Francisco, on Friday August 24th from 6 – 8 PM.

The Writing is On the Wall

On Monday night, local graffiti artist/mainstream artist Satyr-1 interpreted the Museum of Craft and Design’s logo for a member’s event the following night.  Satyr, who has recently completed a large-scale, approved mural in the Tenderloin, brought his own style to our brand.  Working late into the night, he made something unique that our members loved seeing!

This is simply one approach to reaching out and engaging with a diverse range of creative practitioners as we enter our new museum space on Third Street.

Look out for more events in the buildup to our grand opening!  See you soon!

Our Satyr-1-icon…



Early next week I’ll be working with a highly respected artist and graffiti artist, Satyr-1, to put up a version of the Museum’s logo as part of an event we are having to welcome our new members and to show our appreciation of current ones.


What a project like this illustrates to me is that the Museum of Craft and Design is thinking both broadly and strategically, looking for opportunities to bridge gaps – cultural gaps, expectation gaps, experience gaps, aesthetic gaps, value gaps – points in our experience at which with the right stimulus we might tip over into appreciation, but with the wrong approach our excitement about a project might be lost forever.


Satyr-1 is a professional artist who has long since left the ideas of “tagging” behind for commissioned projects in defined spaces with the support of building owners.  His work made a difficult transition, but it mirrors the challenges faced by other artists.  In fact, his might even have been more difficult.


We understand that by working with artists such as Satyr-1 we may be extending our definition of design to its limits.   But this is precisely the point.  The Museum of Craft and Design doesn’t necessarily want to inhabit the margins, but it isn’t so bad to explore them every once in a while.  Why not try a different approach to what you regard as craft or design?  Why not look for value in something that you think is just throwaway?


Before the Museum opens, the entire space will be painted.  But Satyr-1’s piece won’t be painted over.  I’ve invited him to work in the back of the building in what will eventually become Museum storage.  Sure, it’s likely that storage racks will rise in front of it.  But it will be respected for as long as it can be, and its fragments will peek through to remind us of that time before we opened when we wanted to take the old model of our museum and simply break it wide open.


If you would like to see Satyr-1’s work, you can do so at a members’ private reception on Tuesday July 17th.  All it takes is a membership.  Why not buy one and get in on the ground floor of our reinvention.  Who wouldn’t be excited by that?


Audience is Everything…and Illuminating

If there is a single component that can differentiate one museum from another, it is programming.  Programming drives the engine of everything else a museum does.  It creates opportunities to work with artists, designers, craftspeople and other institutions.  It lays the foundation for education, outreach and membership.  It contributes to the musuem’s brand identity, and it serves to differentiate one museum from another.


The Museum of Craft and Design is certainly committed to engaging programming.  From the excitement of the pop-up projects to the community passion for Make Art, it is clear that despite the challenges of a permanent location, the Museum continues to move from strength to strength.


Now, with our new facility announced, I thought it would be interesting to share some of my thoughts on curating to give our members a better understanding of where we are, and where we believe we can go.  So what follows is the framework I conceive my shows within.   It drives how I think about what we show, who we partner with, where we are going and who we serve.  A manifesto it’s not, but a practice it is.


One, the audience is everything.  Museums constantly struggle with the many factors that influence museum participation.  So it is imperative that we understand what our audience wants.  What is important is that we acknowledge that not all audiences are the same, and not every exhibition speaks to everyone.


Two,  you’ll like what we do.  I begin with the expectation that our audience is genuinely interested in craft and design.  This doesn’t mean that our audiences are experts.  It simply means that they share our passion for these two broad fields.  Whether it is new developments in industrial design, fiber art, ceramics, jewelry, urban design, furniture or architecture, every person who visits our museum does so because they are excited about what they will see.


Three, exhibitions will be accessible.  What we try to do at the Museum of Craft and Design is recognize that we all experience the world differently.  Some of us are visual, some prefer to learn through hearing, and some prefer to touch the objects.  So when we develop exhibitions, we try to ensure that the museum experience is paramount.  Generally, the days of the look and learn museum are over.  This doesn’t mean that you can touch every object in every show, but it does mean that we strive to create opportunities for you to engage in our exhibitions in various ways.


Four, audiences are savvy.  I begin with the belief, as I have outlined above, that you are genuinely interested in what we do.  Thank you.


Five, the museum experience is evolving, and it is driven by you.  We can’t know the answer if we don’t know the question.  If there is an idea you can share that will make your visit to the MCD better, please share it with me.


Michael Cooper: Modified

There is something both frightening and exhilarating about Michael Cooper’s car-like works. Locomotion and movement fascinate Cooper, a hot-rod builder himself. Whether the vehicle is self-propelled, being pulled by gravity or on the edges of controllability like Modified, it is clear that four wheels are integral to Cooper’s thinking.

Modified crosses senior siestas with roadster thrills. It’s like American Graffiti for the suburban set, cool chrome hidden away in the garage, a little something extra under the hood. It is the bad boy of Cooper’s exhibition, except instead of hiding itself under a coat of primer or presenting itself in flat black, Cooper highlights every gear, every axle, every driveshaft, every exhaust. It is as if Modified might take you on the fastest run of your life, but only so far as the white picket fence. Take the ride.

Love & Rock + Roll

Saturday night’s Love & Rock + Roll event, a partnership between the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants’ Alliance, Project San Francisco and the Museum of Craft and Design, brought a crowd of over 200 fashion lovers to the Museum’s new Dogpatch space. Eight designers showcased their collections. Menswear, womenswear and outerwear all made an appearance. Join us as we announce many more events to excite the Bay Area as we move into our new Dogpatch space!

In only two short weeks you can have the chance to join the Museum of Craft and Design and the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants’ Alliance at Project San Francisco, a one-night event featuring the fashion works of six young designers. Taking place in our new, as yet to be announced space, the event promises to showcase the vibrancy of San Francisco fashion and the passion the Museum of Craft and Design has for wonderful partnerships.

Tickets are limited, and are still available at the eventbrite website:




Here is an image of a wonderful couture work by designer Jennifer Ly who will be one of the six designers featured in Project San Francisco 2012.

New Shirts Soon

Recognizing a need for beautiful shirts for all our patrons, we will be announcing a new women’s t-shirt shortly! Watch the MCD Store site for details!

Getting the Look!

The Museum of Craft and Design is partnering with the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants’ Alliance to present Project SF, a fashion runway event featuring the collections of young San Francisco designers. Tickets can be found below. Members of the Museum of Craft and Design receive discounted admission!