A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

The 2010 California Design Biennial: Action/Reaction at the Pasadena Museum of California Art showcases innovative design in the most practical areas: product design, fashion design, graphic design, transportation design and architecture. It’s about art combined with function, an affirming experience of what beauty and ingenuity can add to our everyday lives.

Fat Fringe / Photo by Art Gray

In a sense, the California Design Biennial is an interactive exhibit. It encourages rethinking the quotidian and imagining a new experience of everything from dressing up (with wild designs donned by celebrities in concert) to drinking water (another environmental take on the reusable water bottle). Here’s another fun aspect of the show: Some of the items (like the water bottle and botanical perfumes) are available for purchase in the museum’s gift shop.

Architecture is curated by Frances Anderton, fashion by Rose Apodaca, graphic design by Derrick Schultz, product design by Alissa Walker, and transportation by Stewart Reed. Fat Fringe, one of the architectural projects on display, is a die-cut paper canopy that explores the latent characteristics of paper: fluffiness, volume, transparency (pictured above). The project was developed through a series of weekend workshops led by design firm Layer (Emily White and Lisa Little) and organized by the nonprofit Materials and Applications (M&A).

Plume, a couture design for Sarah Jessica Parker, is part of a striking installation of feature purses by Raven Kauffman (pictured below). It features hand-embroidery on silk organza, 1940s anthracite multi-shaped paillettes, vintage Swarovski crystals and hand-dyed and pearlized feathers of emu, burnt ostrich, burnt peacock, striped coque, and goose as well as 1930s bird of paradise feathers from antique showgirl headpieces.

Bring someone with you. You’ll have fun exploring everything from eyeglasses to the Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two — all designed in our state and changing the world as we know it.

Plume by Raven Kauffman

Two other exhibits accompany the Design Biennial. Megan Geckler: Every move you make, every step you take is an architectural installation of flagging tape. Desire features works by six LA artists, exploring the human body, pleasure and gender in diverse ways.

Pasadena Museum of California Art, 490 E. Union St., Pasadena, (626) 568-3665, www.pmcaonline.org.