Mutations on View at the Virginia Center for Architecture

Saul Bass's Vertigo poster
By combining photography, typography and hand-made graphics into expressive pictographs, Saul Bass brought additional power to the work of directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Otto Preminger.

Design, like DNA, describes who we are and how we evolved. Technological evolution presents designers with means and methods to express ideas that continually build upon a collective heredity. Evolution, however, is not contingent solely on nature. Often misstated as “survival of the fittest,” evolution depends on the genetic mutations that best provide an individual or system the ability to adapt to and thrive in its environment. Accordingly, great design evolves not out of the desire to generically appeal for universal acceptance, but from an astute reading of and capitalization on the passions, needs and aspirations of an era. As opposed to timelessness, design speaks to a moment. If design lingers in our collective awareness, it is precisely because it captures the spirit of the best ideas, practices and expressions of its time. This cultural, philosophical, geographic and intellectual nurturing of design is as important, therefore, as its elemental composition.

Louis Kahn's Salk Institute
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute spans the dogma of early modernism and the ambiguity of late-twentieth century design. Photo by Llewellyn Hensley.

The Virginia Center for Architecture announces a new exhibition chronicling the intersections between fashion, graphic design, interior design and architecture throughout the last century. MUTATIONS: The DNA of Twentieth Century Design features the work of 28 iconic designers and demonstrates the physical and metaphysical intersections that bind design. The exhibition opens with a Reception on July 25 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. and features light refreshments. There is no charge to attend, but space is limited and reservations are recommended. Call (804) 644-3041, ext. 100, register online at or email to make reservations.  The exhibition will be on view through Oct. 13, 2013.

The exhibition was curated by Roberto L. Ventura with students from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Departments of Graphic, Fashion and Interior Design. Most of the students came to the project through their participation in the Middle of Broad interdisciplinary studio and each played large roles in the generation of the design brand, exhibit design, and content. The design team included Liz Belte, Sarah Brown, Ying Jun Cheng, Laura Colagrande, Llewellyn Hensley and Mia Zhou.

About the Guest Curator

Roberto L. Ventura has practiced and taught modern and sustainable design in Virginia and North Carolina for 15 years. A member of a number of local teams earning design awards from AIA Richmond and the James River Green Building Council, his work has also been exhibited nationally through the HOME house Project sponsored by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. For the international light art exhibit InLight Richmond 2009, he collaborated with poet Joshua Poteat on the installation “for gabriel,” winning Best in Show.

While maintaining his practice, roberto ventura design studio, Ventura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Interior Design in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also taught Interior Architecture at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and has lectured at the University of Oulu, in Oulu, Finland. Ventura holds a Master’s in Architecture from Miami University and a B.A. in Math and Physics from Albion College. He earned his LEED AP accreditation in 2008 and his NCIDQ certification in 2012.

About the Virginia Center for Architecture
The Virginia Center for Architecture is located at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District. The Center is dedicated to developing the understanding of the power and importance of architecture and design through programs, exhibitions, and its stewardship of an historic landmark. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at