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As demonstrated by the lively exhibit filling the High Museum of Art’s Anne Cox Chambers Wing, Europe is a veritable Vesuvius of creative contemporary design. 

By turns witty, poetic and outrageous, these designers reinterpret utilitarian objects in ways that upend expectations and delight the senses. They borrow cutting-edge technologies and find new uses for industrial plastics, feathers, fire and found objects. They challenge conventions of stability, function and comfort. They blur the boundaries of design, craft and art.

That’s on the one hand. On the other, modernism, its classic forms and spare elegance, still exerts a hold on many in this generation of designers. Both approaches are documented in “European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century,” the museum’s first-ever survey of the past two generations. For more, see my review in the AJC.

Take a good look. This could be the future of the High’s design collection. Curator Ron Labaco has already started collecting these artists (Theo Remy’s “Chest of Drawers” is in the show), and he’s mounted a preview in “Under Construction,” the vest-pocket exhibit of recent acquisitions that’s just opened in an adjacent gallery.

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