Greg HerringshawCan you explain a little bit about the type of work you do here at Cooper-Hewitt?
I am the Assistant Curator in charge of the Wallcoverings Department, a collection of over 10,000 pieces dating from the late 17th century to the present. I am responsible for the preservation of these pieces, ongoing research, and making the collection accessible to staff and scholars.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
One challenging part of my job is balancing the work that needs to be done with work I really enjoy doing. For example, I like working with historic houses around the country and helping solve wallpaper dilemmas. I have had queries from presidential homes, tenements, and jazz performers, as well as homeowners just trying to give their home a period look. Unfortunately, this can involve a lot of research, which I don’t always have time for, so I usually end up passing these queries onto my Master’s Fellow.

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
My favorite part of the job is working with the collection and being able to relate pieces to the social and political cultures they were designed to be used in, such as papers from the French Revolution or specific laws regarding the use of wallpaper in New York tenements.

How would you describe design? What is good design? Bad design?
Sometimes I think there is a fine line between good and bad design—“taste” is so subjective. But, I think good design is something that does what it is supposed to do, is easy to use, looks attractive, and is affordable. If no one can afford to use it, it’s not of much use.

Looking forward, what are you most excited about once the Museum reopens?
I am most excited about the new floor of exhibition space that will focus on collection objects. And, getting an office with a window!

What is your favorite Cooper-Hewitt exhibition to date? Why?
One of my all-time favorite exhibitions at the Cooper-Hewitt is the Fashioning Felt exhibition. I was fascinated by the diversity of the material, in both historic and contemporary uses. I love how contemporary designers are taking this ancient technique and making it appear so current. It was also beautifully displayed.

What was the most memorable moment for you at Cooper-Hewitt? 
I have had several memorable moments at the Coop. At the top of the list, however, is probably the moment when I was offered a permanent job after having worked as a contractor for two years—I always thought this was the greatest job. A close second would be working on the wallpaper exhibition, From Background to Foreground: Looking at an 18th Century Wallpaper.

Finally, if you could redesign anything, what would it be?
If I could change something, it would be to have more pattern and color—everywhere and on everything!

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