A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes

Isometric Studio

Simple, elegant typography set in Xahn Mono and Akkurat exemplify Dorothy Liebes' rigorous modernist approach. Staggered blocks of supergraphic color frame the content—abstracting the textile form on the gallery walls.
The exhibition architecture consists of loom platforms, which evoke a direct connection to textile weaving. These structures create a graphic frame for exhibition objects that immerses visitors in Liebes’ world.
In the entry gallery, we created overhead structures with tensioned paracord that make visitors feel like they are inside a large loom. Along with a super-long work table, the exhibition design recreates the innovative Liebes studio.
Section introductions combine elegant typography with small inset images and colorful shapes, creating graphic moments that draw visitors into key moments in Liebes’ biography.
This standoff graphic panel structure based on the loom concept was designed to conceal an unsightly HVAC vent behind, creating additional surface for exhibition didactics and images.

Isometric designed the first monographic exhibition in 50 years dedicated to Dorothy Liebes, the esteemed textile designer whose contributions shaped 20th century American modernism. The exhibition spans the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s entire 6000 sq. ft. second floor, contextualizing Liebes’ staggering impact in an immersive survey of her studio’s body of work—including over 175 textiles, furniture pieces, documents, and photographs.

The exhibition architecture unifies the museum’s diverse configuration of galleries through loom-inspired thresholds and display platforms composed of ash wood and tensioned green cord. Monumental casework further recalls Liebes’ studio by abstracting the work table. The visual language is effusive and dynamic with color blocks and diagonal line patterns that evoke Liebes’ sensibility in supergraphic form.

Andy Chen
Waqas Jawaid
Architectural Designer
Abhishek Thakkar
Senior Graphic Designer
Paolo Fabbri
Graphic Designer
Ana David
Graphic Designer
Janina Engel
Content Director
Kate McBride
Acting Head of Textiles and Curator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Susan Brown
Lead for Content, Programs, and Interpretation and Curator, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Alexa Griffith Winton
Head of Exhibitions, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Yvonne Gomez Durand
Exhibitions Project Manager, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Molly Engleman
Production Manager, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
Dillon Lundeen Goldschlag
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