Design Research is Back in Cambridge … Temporarily

Design Research is Back in Cambridge … Temporarily

Jeanine Brennan
Nov 11, 2009

Fans of modern design who lived in Boston in the 70's will fondly remember the revolutionary Design Research store in Harvard Square. In fact, the floor-to-ceiling glass building that Crate & Barrel just vacated was originally designed and built for "D/R" — the store that introduced modern designs by Marimekko, Hans Wegner, Alvar Aalto, Joe Columbo and more to the US. For the next few months, Design Research is back in its original space … as an installation.

To mark the building's 40th anniversary, Jane Thompson — designer and wife of Design Research founder Ben Thompson (he was an architect and associate of Harvard's Walter Gropius) rallied a group of folks to recreate D/R in its original space. It's incredible, we went last week and spent an hour just walking around. The exhibition is only viewable from the street (unfortunately you can't go inside). All three floors are lit up with vignettes of furnishings that include original Marcel Breuer, Saarinen, Iittala, and Hans Wegner designs interwoven with copper pots bought by Julia Child and vintage Marimekko fabrics (the third floor upside-down umbrella installation is gorgeous.)

We moved to Boston after D/R had been closed for several years, but when it opened, Design Research was a completely new concept. It wasn't just about selling modern furnishings, it sold lifestyle and living. Ben Thompson, D/R's founder was interested in how people thought about design, and (like ApartmentTherapy), wanted people to think about how to use and experience the spaces they lived in. Design Research helped customers get ideas how to put things together in their home and develop a modern style.

The Design Research exhibit is is a temporary installation, up until April 2010. You can only view it from the outside. We recommend going at night when it's brightly lit.

(from the New York Times) Jane Thompson and Alexandra Lange have written a history of Design Research. "D/R: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes" will be published in 2010 by Chronicle Books.

Design Research is located at 48 Brattle Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Images: 1, 4 & 5: The Boston Globe; 2: GettingHome Design, 3: DesignBoston

The Boston Globe | Through a glass, brightly
The New York Times |
Dwell | Marimekko in Harvard Square
Marimekko Blog | Marimekko Exhibition at Design Research in Cambridge

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