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Modern design is as much about the toothbrush as it is about the airplane. It is, after all, the conception and realization of man-made objects. It has been with us since the Industrial Revolution and the dawn of mass production. A well-designed product is one that fulfills its basic function efficiently and has the added bonus of style — although how style is judged varies with time and place.

Most of the exhibits at “Design Now: Austria,” a contemporary design display at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, share the twin principles of utility and aesthetics. A few achieve one at the expense of the other, but all are evidence of the centrality and importance of Vienna. Its Secession artists and designers started a revolution of architecture and design at the beginning of the last century, and the revolution is ongoing.

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