Designer Muller-Munk to be featured at Carnegie Museum
PITTSBURGH – Carnegie Museum of Art announces “Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk,” opening Nov. 21 in the museum’s Heinz Galleries. Peter Muller-Munk was a brilliant silversmith, a pioneering industrial designer and educator, and a visionary spokesperson for his profession. “Silver to Steel” is the first retrospective of his four-decade career.
With more than 120 works of hand-wrought silver and popular mid-century products, supported by drawings and multimedia interviews, and playfully incorporating period advertising, the exhibition presents the untold story of a man who rose from anonymity as a young silversmith at Tiffany & Co. to become a crucial postwar fulcrum, promoting the practice of industrial design across the globe via a top American design consultancy: Pittsburgh’s Peter Muller-Munk Associates (PMMA).
The exhibition opens with Muller-Munk’s celebrated Modernist silver of the 1920s and 1930s. His best-known designs—the streamlined Normandie pitcher (1935) and the skyscraper-inspired Waring Blendor (1937)—reveal his transition from silversmith to industrial designer and herald an eye-opening presentation of his mass-produced objects. These highly functional and visually striking designs include Bell & Howell cameras, Westinghouse radios and appliances, Griswold cookware, Val Saint Lambert tableware, Porter-Cable power tools, Texaco gas stations and corporate identities, and prototypes in new materials for US Steel. For all its clients the PMMA firm addressed the challenges of a surging postwar consumer culture with vigor and intelligence, producing designs that pleased consumers and became highly successful in the marketplace.
“Silver to Steel: The Modern Designs of Peter Muller-Munk” establishes Muller-Munk, and PMMA, squarely in the canon of mid-century design, and introduces a new audience to a founding father of the field. It reveals the creative side of Pittsburgh, a complement to the city’s industrial might in its manufacturing heyday. Through striking presentations of once familiar objects, the exhibition emphasizes the pervasive influence of good design on everyday life.