Cyberdesk by Lisa Krohn

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In 1993 Lisa Krohn designed and made Cyberdesk, a prototype wearable computer. At the time, the idea of wearable technology was more closely associated with science-fiction cyborgs than fashion or even mobile, wireless technology, but, in hindsight, Cyberdesk is a visionary object, and a harbinger of our future relationship with technology. From the front, it is an elegant beacon, perhaps worn by someone who balances work and leisure effortlessly throughout the day, while the back is a bit more ominous with a port that suggests a direct connection into the body. Krohn’s Cyberdesk is a great example of a conceptual design that raises questions about who is in control—humans or technology—as designers and society navigate increased access to data, connectivity, and artificial intelligence. It is one of the works on view in Designed in California at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (to May 27), which explores the dynamic but complicated new digital landscape in which designers are working.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Gift of the artist; Ian Reeves and Katherine du Tiel Photo.

In addition to Cyberdesk, SFMOMA holds a suite of furniture designed by Krohn that went into production and was created for the flexibility and mobility that desktop or laptop computers offered—not just to reconfigure an open office plan, but to also be able to take your work wherever you find inspiration. SFMOMA’s Architecture + Design collection represents thirty years of acquiring works of design from the period when many designers were transitioning to digital tools for design, communication, and fabrication.

Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher
Helen Hilton Raiser Curator
of Architecture and Design
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art