We live in a world of extremes. Factors such as social media, politics and climate change have magnified society’s descent into division over the last decade.

A new exhibition in Israel – a country with plenty of its own extremes –puts a spotlight on how opposites are represented through design.

“State of Extremes” at Design Museum Holon, open through May 9, 2020, includes more than 70 works by international and Israeli designers and studios.

“State of Extremes” at Design Museum Holon. Photo by Elad Sarig

The exhibit embodies how we rationalize change and existence, from concepts as common as Facebook to the world’s refugee crisis, from Israel’s military culture to mass shootings in the United States.

It touches so many world issues and parts of society, that perhaps the audience it attracts could be a part of the exhibition.

Curated by Aric Chen with Maya Dvash, chief curator of Design Museum Holon, and Azinta Plantenga, it marks the museum’s 10th anniversary.                                                 

Photo of Design Museum Holon by Miriam Alster/FLASH90

“In 2010, ‘The State of Things’ exhibition inaugurated the Design Museum Holon by presenting a landscape of objects,” says Chen. “Now, 10 years later, ‘State of Extremes’ instead describes a condition—one in which the world has changed and, with it, design and design practice.”

The exhibit is political, innovative, critical, and hopeful all at once. Social pressure is an underlying theme in several works.

For instance, Tadafs Maksimovas created a physical manifestation of the psychology behind social media in “Emotigun.” Featured in the first room of the exhibit, a lifesize pseudo-nerf gun is loaded with real life figurines of emojis.

Anaccompanying video shows people being hit by these icons of human emotions, representing today’s obsession with immediate gratification. It also begs the question: At what cost are we using these false representations of real emotions?

“In the last decade, design and innovation have driven us to envision newness in the world, in the pursuit of solutions to everyday problems,” says Dvash. “However, our advancements have created unforeseeable consequences to humankind. ‘State of Extremes’ offers a vivid picture of where we are and where we are going.”

On the other hand, “Compression Cradle” by Lucy McRae embodies our need for human contact and warmth, perhaps as a consequence of the pressures of our digital social lives. The contraption resembles abed filled with cushions. Turn a lever, and the cushions squeeze you in a sequence of aerated volumes that hold you tight.

“Compression Cradle” by Lucy McRae. Photo © by Scottie Cameron

Taking that concept even further, “Raising Robotic Narratives” by Stephan Bogner, Phillip Shmitt and Jonas Voigt envisions a society where AI and robots will be integrated into our everyday lives to the extreme that they will take care of our children. A cold, industrial device is attached to a cradle with a bottle designed for feeding.

“Raising Robotic Natives” on display at Design Museum Holon. Photo by  Elad Sarig

The exhibition is separated into five categories: Spiraling, Polarization, Extremer, New Normals and the Extreme Lab. Each theme overlaps onto one another touching on political, environmental, social and scientific ideas, every piece more extreme than the one before.

Evidently, while expressing our world in opposites, the exhibition proves that these extremes are what make our society cohesive and colorful at the same time. “State of Extremes” may be a call by designers for moderation while conversely embodying the beauty of diversity.

Regular admission tickets are ₪35. For information, click here