Multihyphenation is a compound term referring to alternate modes of creative production: “Collab” culture; “brand X brand” projects; and multiple, or even opaque styles of attribution and ownership among the individuals, studios, and practices that engage in such work. For them, the “body of work” they produce matters more than maintaining a singular creative identity as an individual designer, architect, artist, and so on. As Virgil Abloh—the consummate multihyphenate—once remarked in an interview, “it’s explicitly the fact that I split my time among many things that gives me the point of view to know that what I’m doing is relevant.”
This exhibition features a selection of work by a variety of designers and artists that represents a shift toward multihyphenation as a mode of practice. And it is a shift that has emerged amid a seemingly paradoxical feature of our neoliberal world—namely, “vertical disintegration,” a corporate strategy characterized by high degrees of subcontracting and outsourcing of labor and expertise, maximum operational efficiency, and temporary commitments to tangible resources like land, equipment, and buildings. Throughout the neoliberal period, a global shift toward vertical disintegration across corporate structures has resulted in forms of market domination that now exceed even the vertically integrated dynasties of the Gilded Age. At the turn of the 20th century, for example, Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest people in the world at that time, had grown Carnegie Steel into a monopoly force by gaining control of coal and iron suppliers and their mines and operations, railroad lines, and other resources essential to the production and distribution of steel. Today, a century later, when the world’s largest taxi firm can claim that it owns no cars and employs no drivers, and the world’s largest vacation rental firm owns nearly no real estate, we can say we are truly in a new reality. Multihyphenation has emerged as one kind of response. Which is to say that one way of navigating a world dominated by multinational corporate firms and global brands is simply to become a multiplicity: architect-hyphen-curator-hyphen-art director-hyphen-furniture designer-hyphen-theorist-hyphen-fashion designer, etc., etc., ad infinitum.
This exhibition has been organized together with its counterpart, issue 51 of Harvard Design Magazine. In keeping with the media-sensitivity and format-specificity of multihyphenation, the magazine presents itself as a printed object that captures for posterity a fundamental shift in contemporary practice, whereas this exhibition offers an experience of multihyphenate works that is dynamic, experiential, and temporary.
Multihypenation features works by: AD-WO, A-POC ABLE ISSEY MIYAKE, Arielle Assouline-Lichten, groupsports, Höweler+Yoon, Inside Outside | Petra Blaisse, Metahaven, Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample & MOS, OMA, Samuel Ross, SO – IL, Oana Stănescu and WOJR.
Sarah M. Whiting, Dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture
Curation and Design
Sean Canty, Assistant Professor of Architecture, Harvard GSD; Director, Studio Sean Canty
Zeina Koreitem, Design Faculty, SCI-Arc; Partner, MILLIØNS
John May, Associate Professor of Architecture, Harvard GSD; Partner, MILLIØNS
Alex Yueyan Li, Designer, MILLIØNS (MArch I AP ’21)
Celeste Martore (MArch I ’24), Kirsten Sexton (MArch I ’25), and Rachel Skof (MArch I ’25)
GSD Exhibitions Team
Dan Borelli, Director of Exhibitions
David Zimmerman-Stuart, Exhibitions Coordinator
Ray Coffey, Jef Czekaj, Anita Kan, Sarah Lubin, Jesus Matheus, and Joanna Vouriotis
Harvard Design Magazine
Ken Stewart, Editor in Chief
Meg Sandberg, Managing Editor
Alexis Mark, Graphic Design & Art Direction
Elitza Koeva (DDes ’24) and Vivienne Shi (MArch I ’25)
Student Marketing & Social Media
Audrey Watkins (MArch I ’24) and Alison Zhou (MArch I ’26)
William Smith, Editorial Director
Joshua Machat, Assistant Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Kyra Davies, Assistant Director of Digital Media
Chad Kloepfer, Art Director
Paige Johnston, Associate Director of Public Programs
Kat Chavez, Public Programs Coordinator
Matt Smith, Assistant Director, Multimedia Production
Peter McAuliffe & DPM Construction
Sharon Gioioso & ICL Imaging
Andy Kaufman Painting
Special Thank You
Toshiko Mori, Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture; Grace La, Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Department of Architecture; Mark Lee, Professor in Practice of Architecture; and Julie Cirelli.
We dedicate this exhibition to the late multihyphenates Virgil Abloh, Etel Adnan, Bruno Latour, and Issey Miyake, whose brilliance inspired the issue of Harvard Design Magazine the exhibition is based on, and that continues to inspire our own practices as well as generations of designers who, because of them, see the world differently.