Lawrence Azerrad co-curates epic virtual exhibition, Designing the Future of Music

The Future Happened – hosted by the Museum of Design Atlanta – explores how design and art can deepen our relationship with music, featuring work by Gaurab Thakali, Adama Jalloh and Peter Saville.

12 April 2021

Lawrence Azerrad is a two-time Grammy-winning graphic designer with a career linked intrinsically to the music industry, so his latest initiative Designing the Future of Music has been something of a passion project. Around seven years ago, he began to notice “a substantial transformation in the role that album artwork played in our lives,” he says, in how “folks were connecting to, valuing and utilising music”. Therefore he set out to “uncover new ways to celebrate and elevate the full spectrum of the music experience and the role that design can play in this”. The latest outlet for Azerrad’s research is an epic virtual exhibition hosted by the Museum of Design Atlanta, and explores – via an excitingly diverse and multidisciplinary set of works – how design and art for music can amplify its messages and forge deeper connections with society.

The show is packed with fascinating work and stories, offering plenty for even the most knowledgable design and music aficionados to discover. Among the music-inspired exhibits is an interview with Peter Saville, work by London-based photographer Adama Jalloh and illustrator Gaurab Thakali; an exclusive deconstruction of the artefacts created for the Shabazz Palaces’ film Welcome to Quazarz by Black Constellation artist Nep Sidhu; and new work from Atlanta-based freestyle organisation Soul Food Cypher. Alongside that there’s also exclusive interviews, process archives and prototypes from the designers, artists, technologists and filmmakers behind works for Advisry, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Burna Boy, Chicano Batman, The Church of Coltrane, Jidenna, Kazu, Fela Kuti, Sampa The Great, The Sex Pistols and Record Culture Magazine.

There’s exciting features for Atlanta music fans too, such as an interactive sonic and walkthrough experience of The Dungeon, the original home and studio of Dungeon Family. VR platform Volta will also be hosting live performances by the likes of Imogen Heap.


Sajjad: Burna Boy, African Giant (Copyright © Burna Boy, 2021)

Azerrad co-curated the exhibition with London-based creative director Ruby Savage, Atlanta-based cultural producer Floyd Hall, and designer and technologist Marlon Fuentes, collectively pulling together a unique range of works. “Left to each other’s devices, no one alone could have compiled the mosaic that the team composed together,” Azerrad tells It’s Nice That. “Part of the uniqueness of the exhibit stems from the diversity of the curatorial team. Not only in race, gender, and age but from the geographical and experiential differences between the group.” He says Savage brought fresh perspectives on activism, race and healing; Hall brought a longstanding relationship with the Atlanta hip-hop community; and Fuentes brought innovation. Meanwhile Azerrad focused on practitioners working “boldly” in traditional design.

The show is split into six categories: technology, timelessness, community, power, Atlanta and healing. It spans everything from fine art to AR via animation, photography, zines, DNA sequencing, performance and traditional graphic design. According to the curators, whether the artist’s work “sparks change” became the fundamental qualifier for inclusion. “The exhibition opens our eyes to new and radical narratives that have the power to transform our ways of being in the world,” concludes Azerrad.

The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music is available to explore online now via the Museum of Design Atlanta until 9 April 2022.

GalleryLawrence Azerrad: The Future Happened, Designing the Future of Music at MODA


Peter Saville: Section 25, From the Hip (Copyright © Section 25, 2021)


Holly Andres: Esperanza Spalding, Emilys D+Evolution (Copyright © Esperanza Spalding, 2021)


Adama Jalloh: D Double E (Copyright © Adama Jalloh, 2021)


C.Prinz: DaveedDiggs/Clipping (Copyright © Clipping, 2021)


Frank Maddocks: Deftones album artwork (Copyright © Deftones, 2021)


Copyright © Spillage Village, 2021

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Gaurab Thakali for Sun Ra (Copyright © Sun Ra, 2021), part of The Future Happened exhibition at MODA.

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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