Curator: Zoe Ryan

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By Aaron Britt
Call her the wild card (or the green card) in this U.S.–focused roundup, but London-born Zoë Ryan has graced our shores for the past 14 years and in the process has brought a sharp curatorial eye and a plethora of design objects to our galleries and museums.

Ryan’s pedigree includes stints with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Van Alen Institute, but since 2006 she’s been ensconced at the Art Institute of Chicago as the Neville Bryan Curator of Design. In addition to curating a pair of shows dedicated to the work of Konstantin Grcic and the design consultancy Graphic Thought Facility, Ryan is also hard at work building the Art Institute’s first collection of contemporary design.

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"We’re actually working in reverse chronology to build the collection," she says. "We’re collecting design from the last five years and then filling in as we find the precedents."

That commitment to the Campanas over Corbu has stood Ryan in good stead in the contemporary scene, and her next show—–Hyperlinks, set to open December 11—–embraces the increasing overlap between the creation of spaces, products, signage, and buildings.

"Shows are never about a single work," Ryan says. "They’re about the relationships between them all. I see the gallery less as an end point, and more as the point at which we, and the public, really start to explore."