Now in its fifth year, Modern Atlanta: Design Is Human is a weeklong celebration of contemporary design (June 4–12). The event began as a tour of homes, but response was so immediate, it soon grew into a multifaceted affair that now features lectures, fashion shows, film, performance, exhibitions, design competitions, and the ever-popular home tour. Last year MA drew nearly 4,000 attendees. By turns loopy and infectiously avant-garde, MA mixes things up—like it did with last year’s “archicomic,” a mash up of architecture and pop culture in comic book form, or with the two female Copenhagen pottery designers known as “Claydies,” who boogied around the High Museum’s atrium to Nirvana and James Brown while wearing pots on their heads.
The mission of MA is simple, says cofounder and event director Elayne DeLeo. “Design is powerful—it impacts our everyday life. We want the world to see Atlanta as an international design destination and a major contributor to big ideas.”
MA is produced by the dynamic duo of DeLeo and her curator Bernard McCoy. DeLeo’s and McCoy’s day jobs are in, respectively, marketing and consulting, but MA is a labor of love, funded by sponsorships, advertising, and home tour ticket sales. A North Carolina native who lives in Cambridge, McCoy’s Euro-perch affords him a front-row seat on the latest international design that gives MA its stateside edginess.
Highlights of this year’s events include a screening of the documentary Inside Piano, about High-expansion architect Renzo Piano; a lecture by Polish graphic designer Jacek Utko; and a focus on Korea with a pavilion at Two Peachtree Pointe and a lecture by Seoul-based architect and onetime Rem Koolhaas protégé Minsuk Cho. The latter is also the venue for Tuesday’s launch party and Friday’s MA’ology Africa Fashion and Design Fundraiser for CARE. Some of Atlanta’s premiere modern architects are featured on the home tour, including TaC Studios, Dencity, Scott West, and Houser Walker. Also on the bill: what DeLeo describes as a “kind of fun and funky” smartphone tour of local landmarks such as Piedmont Park’s Isamu Noguchi playground.
This year MA hopes to expand and move into the burbs, with events such as a fall screening of the film My Playground, about the urban sport of parkour. modern-atlanta.org
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Photograph of the Houser residence courtesy of Houser Walker Architecture