Designing Peace

Designing Peace

Museum of Craft and Design

October 31, 2023
Designing Peace
October 7, 2023–February 4, 2024
Museum of Craft and Design
2569 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 10am–5pm,
Sunday 12–5pm

On October 7, the Museum of Craft and Design opened Designing Peace, an exhibition organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, that explores the unique role design can play in pursuing peace. This exhibition features design projects from around the world that look at ways to create and sustain more durable peaceful interactions—from creative confrontations that challenge existing structures to designs that demand embracing justice and truth in a search for reconciliation.

Designing Peace comes at a critical juncture of current global dynamics, with people facing vast social, environmental and economic inequities, and dozens of continuing conflicts from internal insurgencies, long-standing armed standoffs, and territorial disputes. The exhibition considers what might be possible if society were to design for peace and takes into account goal 16 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which calls directly for peace, justice, and strong institutions through the elimination of hunger and poverty, improvements in health and education, the building of more resilient cities and infrastructure, the fostering of innovation, action on climate change, and more.

Designing Peace features 30 of the original selected design proposals, initiatives, and interventions from over 20 countries, represented by objects, models, full-size installations, maps, images, and film. The exhibition showcases a wide range of design responses to the underlying reasons for conflict and division, such as socioeconomic inequality, resource competition, and environmental degradation. These responses are sorted by the following prompts:

How can design engage creative confrontation? How can design address the root causes of conflict? How can design support safe, healthy, respectful environments? How can design embrace truth and dignity in a search for peace and justice? How can design help transitions from instability to peace?

Responses include Rael San Fratello’s Teeter-Totter Wall which originally featured three pink seesaws installed through the slats of the towering steel US-Mexico border wall. Rael San Fratello’s project demonstrates the delicate balance between the two nations and shows how movements and actions taken on one side of the border directly impact the other. In Designing Peace, the project is represented by one of the seesaws as well as prints exploring the design.

DETEXT’s Maps (Bullet Rug Series) weaves together discarded bullet casings collected in Colombia, Guatemala, Lebanon, Mexico, Spain, and the United States to create a shimmering rug that tells hidden stories of international arms trafficking. Another poignant work is HarassMap, a video installation of a crowd-mapped anonymous data reporting platform, designed by four women who were experiencing daily sexual harassment on Egypt’s streets. 

MCD’s Executive Director, JoAnn Edwards, comments, “This timely exhibition spotlights the positive influence design can have in facilitating peace and how designer’s and maker’s creative responses and interventions are crucial in keeping these relevant conversations at the forefront. Design-based solutions like the ones being presented in Designing Peace carve out space for meaningful dialogue.”

Designing Peace was organized by Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
This exhibition was curated by Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, with Caroline O’Connell, Curatorial Assistant. 

Exhibition Media Partners: Dezeen and KQED.

The Museum of Craft and Design’s exhibitions and programs are generously supported by Anonymous, the Windgate Foundation, and Grants for the Arts.

Designing Peace is on view at the Museum of Craft and Design through February 4, 2024. Learn more and reserve tickets at

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October 31, 2023

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