Author: Jennifer Cohlman Bracchi

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grid of colorful book covers
Sutnar On the Grid
Published in Prague for only four years (1926-1930), these issues of the rare Czechoslovakian periodical, Výtvarné snahy [Art Endeavors], feature covers designed by Ladislav Sutnar during 1928 and 1929.  Relevant to the National Design Library’s rare and special collections for both content and graphic design, they also support Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s Sutnar archives and holdings, representing...
Page from a book printed with three rows of simplified male bodies. Men in the first row are outlined in black with no fill, men in the second row printed in black, and men in the third row are printed in red. Beneath them, text reads "1 Sign for 1,000,000,000 men / White--red--black--brown--yellow men / Picture 14.
Picturing Language
Without much thought or effort, I’ve been reading images inspired by Otto Neurath’s International Picture Language for most of my life.  No doubt you too have encountered derivatives of these informative symbols which can be found across the globe and online, from airport signage to The Noun Project.  Considered an early pioneer of infographics, Neurath...
spiral staircase image
Stairway to Modernism: Thérèse Bonney Collection
Upon first glance it is difficult to tell if we are looking up or down this spiral staircase.  Clean lines intersect with natural light, casting shadows that create a deceptive flattening effect from this vantage point. What appear to be stairs descending counterclockwise with no railing is actually the underside of the staircase designed to...
various patterns made from the cross sections of seashells
Inside wonders: A Japanese pattern book
Patterns found in nature have influenced human creativity for millennia and continue to inspire designers today. Can you guess what natural forms were used to create the designs in this pattern book? Published in Kyoto by Unsōdō in 1913, its bold calligraphic lines, sweeping curves, and organic forms share characteristics with both Japan’s Rinpa and...
drawing of two young women in front a window
Poiret’s liberating plates
This fashion plate from Les Robes De Paul Poiret (1908) is one of eleven illustrations often credited with liberating women from the body constricting corsets popular during the Victorian and Edwardian eras (1837-1910). Dress reformers had advocated for classical-style high waistlines as early as the 1880s, but it was Poiret’s beautifully commissioned album that most...
Photograph of Lighting Fixture from the Caldwell & Company Collection
Illuminating New York: Caldwell & Company
This black and white photograph represents just one of 37,000 from the National Design Library’s Caldwell & Company Collection. Also containing 13,000 original drawings and watercolor sketches, this immense visual resource comprises one of the largest lighting fixture archives by a single American company. The library has digitized a large portion of this collection which...
Statue of Liberty with rays of light extending from her crown
Lady Liberty’s baby pictures from the Kubler Collection
To celebrate the Statue of Liberty’s 126th birthday, we’ve pulled together some of her baby pictures. These earliest images of Lady Liberty, from our National Design Library’s George A. Kubler Collection, depict her before her dedication in 1886 on Bedloe’s Island—now Liberty Island. You might notice a few differences from the statue we know today,...