Collaborations in design

Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial co-organized with Cube design museum. In collaboration with the world's largest design museum, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, in New York, Cube design museum presents the extensive exhibition NATURE. 10 May 2019 - 19 January 2020.

The more than 60 groundbreaking works show designers' solutions to environmental and social challenges confronting humanity today and their effort to transform people's relationship with the natural world. Man and nature are working together to save our planet!

Are the limits of nature stretchable? How do we better manage our finite, natural resources? What can we still learn from nature? And how do we bring man and nature closer together? Designers everywhere are more and more inspired by nature driven by the need to be more respectful of our planet and more sparing of natural resources. Plastic made from algae, textile coloured by raindrops and bandages which imitate the naturally healing benefits of slug secretions are some examples of the ingenious projects on display.

For this exhibition Cube and Cooper Hewitt selected the most promising design innovations, from 2016 and later. NATURE shows work by international top designers, such as Neri Oxman, Oron Catts and Mathieu Lehanneur, and work by award-winning Dutch designers such as Klarenbeek & Dros, Atelier NL, Nienke Hoogvliet, Kirstie van Noort, Aliki van der Kruijs and Teresa van Dongen. 

"A dire report chronicled how human activities could cause 1 million species to go extinct. But that doesn’t have to happen, and a new exhibition at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan and the Cube design museum in the Netherlands looks at how we can pull the emergency brake and maybe even start to undo the damage."

Seven themes

The exhibition themes – facilitate, augment, nurture, salvage, remediate, simulate, understand, reflect the strategies design teams employ in collaborating with nature. Work ranges from the speculative to the practical and represents new materials, technologies, objects, buildings, and much more. With design, we have the ability to become active agents to alter our relationship with our world. 


From the microscopic to the macroscopic, the natural world is full of rich, complex processes that designers help to make more comprehensible. Harnessing new research, visualizing new and innovative streams of data, and offering experiences in the physical and digital realms, designers are providing the tools for us to better understand the wonders of nature and reestablish a reverence for its systems.


Designers seek to rectify imbalances in our ecosystems, bringing us in closer alignment with nature. Whether developing new materials or rethinking death and burial, designers are helping to reform attitudes about the environment, rehabilitate our mental and physical well-being, and regenerate local traditions and habitats.


One of the most remarkable aspects of nature is the lack of waste. Decomposition, scavenging, and biodegradation are some of nature’s processes to maintain a closed-loop life cycle. Designers are redefining raw materials by creatively capturing and repurposing air pollution or ocean plastic, and they are developing new methods to work with non-traditional natural materials.


Nature is the ultimate guide. Understanding how nature works prompts a desire to emulate its properties and efficiencies. Designers are modeling systems, materials, and objects on biological structures to devise optimal forms or efficient techniques.


Designers are harnessing and assisting natural processes. Some use cultivation, deposition, proliferation, and regeneration of living materials to guide the growth of structures and objects. Others are partnering with scientists and engineers to develop new materials and production processes using biological growth as a fabrication platform.


Designers are developing materials, objects, and the built environment to enhance not just human existence but nature itself. Whereas some designers seek out the intelligence of natural materials or develop innovative methods to enhance our bodies, others raise questions and probe technological approaches to nature and life.


Our health is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. Some designers are fostering living organisms to provide us with light and shelter. Others are reframing the discourse around humanity’s impact on Earth and challenging us to change our behavior.

Practical information

  • Opening hours
    Cube design museum is open from Tuesday till Sunday, from 10:00-17:00 hrs. We are also open on Mondays during school holidays. More information.
  • Tickets
    Tickets are available at the counter and online: Tickets.

Audio tour

With 62 designs within 7 themes, the NATURE exhibition has a lot of information to offer. In addition to a handout, there is therefore also a free audio tour available with all backgrounds.


Catalogue 'Nature: Collaborations in Design'

Available in the museum shop: Nature catalogue. This book contains all projects from the exhibition in text and image: more than 60 international projects in the field of architecture, product design, landscape design, fashion, interactive and communication design and material research.

In seven essays matching each of the seven themes (facilitate, augmentation, nurture, salvage, remediate, simulate, understand nature) & four conversations between scientists and designers, the approach of the designers is explained and these are illustrated with the help of more than 300 immersive and beautiful photos, images and content of data visualisations.
Paperback, 240 pages, full colour: €29,95

IMPACT Programme

In addition to the exhibition Cube presents the IMPACT! programme, which consist of various activities where the theme of the exhibition is further explored. In collaboration with Dutch designers involved in the exhibition, lectures and workshops are being organized on the subject of nature, technology and design. Follow the IMPACT! program on the IMPACT! website and on Cube's social media channels for more information about these activities. IMPACT

Plant Project: Share your selfies!

Nanobionic Plant Project

To make a living plant emit long-term visible light, MIT's Strano Lab injects it with chemically interacting nanoparticles, such as luciferin, luciferase (an enzyme that modifies luciferin so that it lights up) and coenzyme A (which activates luciferase activity) strengthens). The metabolism of the plant then drives the light emission. The plant in Nature is part of an ongoing experiment by MIT & KVA Matx design team's 'Plant Project'. The aim of this project is to produce ambient light with living plants as they occur in nature. These plants are not genetically manipulated in any form and the developed nanobiological techniques can be applied to other plants, shrubs or trees.

This project has its own Instagram account @plantproperties. By sharing selfies made in the virtual plant party room and tagging PlantProperties you are already helping with the crowd source of information about these nanobionic plants.


Nature – Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial is made possible in part by support from Amita and Purnendu Chatterjee, the August Heckscher Exhibition Fund, the Esme Usdan Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Creative Industries Fund NL and the New York State Council on the Arts with support of gouvernor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

  • Concept exhibition: Cooper Hewitt design museum, Cube design museum
  • Curators: Caitlin Condell, Andrea Lipps, Matilda McQuaid, Hans Gubbels, Gène Bertrand
  • Advisory team: Aric Chen, curator at large, M+ Museum (Hong Kong); Michael John Gorman, founder, BIOTOPIA Museum (Munich); Suzanne Lee, chief creative officer, Modern Meadow (New York); Ravi Naidoo, founder,  interactive Africa (Cape Town); Simone Rothman, founder and CEO, FutureAir (New York); and Barbara Stauffer, chief of community programs, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)
  • Exhibition design: Cooper Hewitt design museum & Studio Joseph

Realization at Cube design museum

  • Exhibition design: Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe
  • Graphic design: Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe, Nadine Vroomen, Cube design museum
  • Realization: Van Eijk & Van der Lubbe, Houtatelier Pablo Borger, Ahaus, Tom Jannes, Madeleine van Daele, Cube design museum
  • Loaning: Vivian van Slooten, Cube design museum
  • Development audiotour: Submedia
  • Translations: DUO vertaalburo, Vertaalbureau Louvenberg
  • Photography in the exhibition: Kenneth Tan, Ruud Balk
  • Campaign image: © Designed and photographed by Michelin

Nature was co-created with financial support from:

Provincie Limburg

Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie

Fonds 21

Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds

U.S. Embassy and Consulate in the Netherlands

Next Nature Network

Cooper Hewitt

Nature is the sixt Design Triennial organized by Cooper Hewitt and for the first time it's co-organized with Cube design museum. This exhibition will be on view simultaneously in Kerkade, The Netherlands, and New York. Cooper Hewitt is America’s design museum. Inclusive, innovative and experimental, the museum’s dynamic exhibitions, education programs, master’s program, publications and online resources inspire, educate and empower people through design. An integral part of the Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum, education and research complex—Cooper Hewitt is located on New York City’s Museum Mile in the historic, landmark Carnegie Mansion. Steward of one of the world’s most diverse and comprehensive design collections—over 210,000 objects that range from an ancient Egyptian faience cup dating to about 1100 BCE to contemporary 3D-printed objects and digital code—Cooper Hewitt welcomes everyone to discover the importance of design and its power to change the world. Cooper Hewitt knits digital into experiences to enhance ideas, extend reach beyond museum walls, and enable greater access, personalization, experimentation and connection. In 2018, the London Design Biennale awarded a medal to Cooper Hewitt for its presentation “Face Values,” an immersive installation that explores the pervasive but often hidden role of facial-detection technology in contemporary society.