Center for Design

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As we face an increasingly designed environment, an institution has evolved to help us understand the role of design in our lives – the Center for Design. It has become a focal point for scholarly research into design. Public understanding of the field of design has been embraced through the preservation of this distinctive design collection. The Center itself is a place of human and intimate scale. It reflects the ingenuity and craftsmanship of its founder Sara Little Turnbull, whose world travels since the 1950s, were the source of the fascinating collection of over 3500 objects assembled there. Within the walls of the Center the impact of design on the world’s cultures may be clearly seen – artifacts of tribal Africa mingle with Parisian haute couture. A primitive American weathervane lays only a few steps from an ornate cosmetic tray from India. Collectively the objects illustrate that within diversity there is unity, that for something to be well designed it must meet basic human needs.

Design is for people – to fill our needs, to make our lives easier and more graceful, to sharpen our awareness and perhaps delight us in the process, to recognize that ancient urge to blend the useful and the beautiful, and to take the time to see. This is the purpose of the Center for Design – a place and time to see.

This Center has been re-established in the Pacific Northwest is available to visitors and guests by appointment.

Scholars familiar with these collections seek it out and have traveled from around the world
to be exposed to its inspiration. The objective of the Center for Design is best stated in
a quotation by Thomas Carlyle, the English philosopher, who said:

“The great law of culture is this; let each become all that he was created capable of being.”