How does design impact our everyday lives and the world around us? This is the central question the National Design Museum's third Triennial, on view through July 29, 2007, poses to visitors. Curators Barbara Bloemink, Ellen Lupton, Matilda McQuaid, and Brooke Hodge have assembled projects, products, and objects that represent the most significant ideas, and which have had the greatest impact on contemporary culture the past three years.

The exhibit is divided into four main categories: emulating life, community, handcrafted and do-it-yourself design, and transformation. Not surprising, light finds its place in each of these exhibit areas, reinforcing its significance as a critical design element without limits.

Of particular note to seek among the many displays is artist Alison Berger's luminaries, which explore light through the nuances and imperfections of glass; James Carpenter Design Associates exhibit-specific installation which, "explores the reciprocal relationship between the Museum's garden and interior by interpreting the idea of windows as a light and information threshold;" Howler + Yoon Architecture's Low Rez HI FI, a public art piece comprised of light and sound elements; Electroland's interactive light band that tracks the movement of visitors while working its way alongside the majestic stairway of the Andrew Carnegie Mansion, the Museum's longtime home; Abhinand Lath's SensiTile, a passive light-conducting matrix; and the work of lighting design firms Leni Schwendinger Light Projects, and Herve Descottes/L'Observatoire International.

In a prepared statement, museum director Paul Warwick Thompson states, "The Triennial emphasizes the nearly infinite ways in which design plays a role in how we see, think about and experience the world around us." And that it does. With displays as diverse as designer textiles, robots, and organ transport systems, one is reminded that when design excellence is coupled with problem solving, the possibilities are endless. Functional or frivolous--design matters.