The New Orleans Museum of Art is proud to present the exhibition The Essence of Things: Design and the Art of Reduction. Organized by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, this exhibition brings together approximately 150 objects covering 100 years of design history.

From familiar items like flip-flops and paperclips, to conceptual chairs and lamps by superstar designers, The Essence of Things celebrates simplicity in design. The exhibition considers how furniture, appliances, lighting, graphic design, and architecture have been influenced by the art and the practice of minimalism. Among the designers featured are such well-known names as Gerrit Rietveld, Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Ettore Sottsass, and Frank Gehry.

Whether designing a piece of furniture, an article of clothing, or a basic utensil, many designers embrace minimalism as a way to achieve both functionality and aesthetic elegance. These designers are guided by the belief that good design happens when nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away. This principle has governed industrial design for over a century. The Essence of Things explores the many facets of minimalism and demonstrates the contrasting ways designers have sought to capture the essential in an object.

Highlights of the exhibition include design icons such as Wagenfeld’s Kubus Stacking Containers (1938), Gerrit Rietveld’s Zig-Zag Chair (1934), Table for E-1027 (1927) by Eileen Gray, the S-shaped Panton Chair (1959/60), experimental chairs by Charles and Ray Eames, and a scale model of Eames’s 1945-49 Case Study House.

From Hand Axe to Multipack Carrier: Selction of objects from the exhibition’s prologue

© Collection Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein; Photo: Andreas Sutterlin

DSS Stacking Chairs and DAX Armchair


Charles and Ray Eames

© Vitra

Case Study House, #8/ Eames House, Architecture model


Charles and Ray Eames/ Eero Saarinen

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo: Andreas Sutterlin

“Ant” (No. 3100)


Arne Jacobsen

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo: Thomas Dix



Tokujin Yoshioka

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo: Andreas Sutterlin

“Bar Moka” Chair


Mario Asnago, Claudio Vender

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo: Felix Wirth



Sybold van Ravesteyn

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo: Andreas Sutterlin

Disassembled No. 14 Chairs in transportation crate


Thonet Brothers

© Vitra Design Museum; Photo Thomas Dix



The Essence of Things: Design and the Art of Reduction is presented at NOMA in memory of H. Mortimer Favrot Jr. and supported in part by the Favrot Architecture and Design Endowment and AOS Interior Environments.

AOS Interior Environments Logo-01

NOMA’s hospitality partner for this exhibition is the Ace Hotel New Orleans.