Georgia O’Keeffe, Her Chows, and Contrast

If you’ve worked with Sina and I on exhibition design, collections/artefact presentation, or have attended any of our workshops related to the built environment, the inclusive design ecosystem, or inclusive collections practices, you will no doubt recall our emphasis on the importance of edge detection, shape detection, and contrast. These tactics (and several more) greatly contribute to safe and inclusive wayfinding, artefact preservation and protection, and ensuring museum audiences perceive and access content not only in the manner intended by the museum (curatorial, interpretive, and/or design intent), but inclusively and accessibly as well.

It was while in New Mexico last week, touring Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu, that we learned about the upgrades and changes she made to the property over her years there. One such change was the swapping out of dark floors in her bedroom and studio to light coloured carpet. What provoked this change? Georgia O’Keeffe developed Macular Degeneration later in life (affecting her vision). As she was concerned about accidentally tripping over or injuring her beloved chows, she changed the flooring so that their dark haired bodies would present a significantly increased contrast and she would be better able to see and detect them. This is a great (and unique) example of addressing contrast between fore and backgrounds in order to protect, preserve, and facilitate greater inclusive accessibility.

2 dark haired puppies sit on a pale stone floor.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s chows. Image Credit: Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Return

Sina and I began this micro blog as a response to expressions of interest that we share those instances we come across, in our travels and across our projects, that present an interesting, unique, or innovative take on experience design. Given it’s us, you can be sure that whatever we chose to spotlight somehow surfaces concepts related to inclusion and access.

What we didn’t predict was a global pandemic stopping our travels the same month we decided to first publish Mosaic (#M4C). 20 months later and travel has ramped back up again. As such, we’re happy to begin picking up where we left off and sharing those notable examples of interesting and inclusive experience design that we come across . (Note: The Reading List and Glossary sections have been kept up to date this entire time).

It’s nice to be out in the world again and we’re looking forward to sharing those instances we come across that can help provoke discourse around meaningful, rich, and inclusive experience design.