To accompany a film documenting the history and social impact of Tupperware the a mid-west university mounted a show featuring hundreds of Tupperware products, many dating back decades and on loan from the Smithsonian museum.
While theTupperware film offered a deeply researched history of the Tupperware business and used it as a vehicle for real insight into women’s roles at mid-century the exhibit did little to bring a similar appreciation to the actual objects being displayed. Instead the exhibit used historic furnishings and props to contextualize Tupperware as the embodiment of a retro kitsch sensibility.
When The Aronson gallery extended an opportunity to reconceive the show for a New York installation it was an exciting opportunity to take a closer look at these icons of mid-century modern industrial product design.
The signature imagery used in the exhibit design and promotion was developed around the concept of Tupperware as totemic objects of consumer culture, with a nod to the influence of Brancusi on the design stylings of the era.
Most of the products being exhibited, as well as the gallery window display that looked out on Fifth Avenue, were installed in the form of light tables and light boxes. In cases where the Tupperware on display was translucent, the illumination amplified the material properties of the objects, transforming cheap polyethylene containers into vessels glowing with jewel-like colors.
The design decision to use illuminated displays in dimmed rooms was multi-purposed; to highlight and aestheticize the physical qualities of the objects as well as to create a personal resonance with visitors to the exhibit – to bring the experience home in an echo of the most common memory of tupperware; as a backlit, glowing artifact of modernism encountered in an ordinary household refrigerator.