RGA Chairman and CEO Bob Greenberg runs an agency that's perhaps best known for its Nike innovations, the Owlet baby-monitor smart socks or the "Love Has No Labels" campaign for the Ad Council.
Now he's becoming the first ad pro to put on an exhibition at New York's Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, where the guest curators are more often musicians, fashion designers, artists and writers. Greenberg's exhibit, which begins a six-month run on Feb. 23, showcases how design and technology have radically changed everyday life for decades.
But it's not that much of a detour for Greenberg, whose obsession with design and tech play out at work every day.
"I can't think of anything that's had a bigger impact on the lives of people," says Greenberg.
"The Walkman had such a big influence on people, and then the iPod came out and you could have 1,000 songs in your pocket. Now your cellphone has access to Spotify or Apple or any song ever written," he says. "People's lives are completely changed."
The exhibit includes 42 works from Cooper Hewitt's holdings, as well as a few from Greenberg's personal collection, such as an Edison Voicewriter Dictaphone from 1953, a TV8-301 portable television from 1959, a 1962 Tonearm Balance (which calculates the ideal balance for a stylus on a record player), an ET55 calculator from 1980 and a pair of Google Glasses from 2013. There's also, of course, an iPhone from 2007, the year it was introduced.
Acclaimed architect and Harvard GSD's Robert P. Hubbard Professor Toshiko Mori is helping to design the exhibit itself. Mori is the same architect who designed Greenberg's home, based on Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth house, in New York's Hudson Valley.