The idea for Design Museum was born when co-founders Sam Aquillano and Derek Cascio
sketched out plans on a pizza box. Launched in Boston in 2009, it is the region’s first museum
focused on design. With locations in Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, it has evolved into
the Design Museum Foundation, which will be honored in July with the American Society of
Interior Designers (ASID) 2017 Design Innovation award.
“Our mission is to bring the transformative power of design everywhere,” says Aquillano.
ASID vice president of communications, Joseph Cephas, says its unique approach to doing
that is what earned the museum recognition. Rather than having one stationary location,
it took a pop-up approach. “It’s changed how we think of a museum,” Cephas says. “That’s
really what made them the epitome of this award.”
Design Museum Boston has done exhibitions all over town, including Logan Airport and
Boston City Hall. Last summer, its “Extraordinary Playscapes” exhibit, which highlighted case
studies of creative play spaces for children, included indoor installations at Boston Society
of Architects BSA Space, several informational kiosks around the city allowing the public to
interact with the exhibit, and pop-up playgrounds on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Boston
City Hall plaza. The Greenway installation (above) became permanent by popular demand.
The foundation is planning a book, “Design & Play,” about the exhibit. “We see it as a
big tool for educators, city planners, and parents,” says Jennifer Jackson, the foundation’s
Aquillano still keeps the pizza box with outlines of Design Museum’s original plan and
the ASID award serves as proof of its validity. “We’re still relatively new to the national
stage,” Aquillano says. “To be recognized on the national level was pretty amazing and
Design Museum Foundation; 50 Milk Street, Boston; designmuseumfoundation.org.
European home design catalogues change from year
to year, much like car models, says Magued Barsoum,
president and co-founder of Divine Design Center. But
in American catalogues, he observes, the designs
remain similar. With European manufacturers
focusing on design and functionality first, he says, the
future of interior design is in Europe.
And now, it is in Boston’s North End.
Barsoum and his wife, Mariette, founded Divine
Design Center five years ago, after running Divine
Design+Build in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The goal of
their new enterprise is to bring modern, functional,
elegant European style to the Boston area. In January,
the company relocated from a small showroom in the
Center to an
Battery Wharf (left).
setup lets custom-
ers experience what
Barsoum calls the
total-living concept. “It’s a more holistic approach,”
he says. Rather than compartmentalized room
displays, the store takes an open plan approach, all
carefully curated by the showroom staff. Striking a
balance between modern and traditional styles, the
showroom represents 15 manufacturers including
Altamarea, which makes bathroom furniture, and
Leicht, known for cutting-edge kitchens.
“Having products that open up spaces is very
important,” Barsoum says. Examples are Germany’s
Team 7 kitchen island (top photo) that hydraulically
moves up to counter height and down to table height
eliminating the need for a separate dining space
and Rolf Benz Nuvola sectional with rearrangeable
pieces. Call it Euro flexibility.
Divine Design Center, 2 Battery Wharf, Boston,
POPS OF STYLE
WRITTEN BY NICOLE DEFEUDIS