Arguably an exhibition featuring minimalist furnishings designed by contemporary fine artists couldn't have found a more incongruous home than the Cooper-Hewitt's ornate second floor galleries. All but one of the exhibition's rooms featured ornate and heavy handed victorian woodwork, which was already old-fashioned by the time of the building was constructed as Andrew Carnegie's mansion in 1902.
The one stripped of detail was the result of converting the original baths, nursery, and dressing rooms into a singular gallery space—with temporary walls blocking all the windows and egregious broadloom carpet.
Our response was to look at documentation of the mansion in Carnegie's time, to determine how it was originally furnished-and continue our ongoing strategy of removing clumsily built temporary walls on the perimeter of historic rooms. We convinced the museum to strip the stripped gallery even further, including removing the carpet to reveal the wood floor and tile bed of the old rooms.
Rooms were furnished in correlation to their original historic decor where possible, which admittedly resulted in an at times crowded arrangement for minimalist pieces. There was also something potentially a little ironic in the charge of presenting 'functional' design as rarified, untouchable objects of art.