Broadway
Draping the Walls
This drapery pattern called Broadway is part of the first collection of wallcoverings designed by Boym Partners for Wolf-Gordon. The collection was inspired by the Boym’s travels and this trompe l’oeil pattern of drapery folds was inspired by the curtains in Broadway theaters. The design creates a strong vertical pattern and is rendered in a...
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Our Lady of Einsiedeln
One of many cut paperworks in Cooper Hewitt’s collection made by the same (now anonymous) craftsperson, this incredibly intricate devotional card is an example of the paper-crafting technique scherenschnitte (German for “scissor cuts”).  Frequently used to embellish religious objects representing  saints and other figures well-known to the Catholic, Germanic world of the 18th century,  scherenschnitte...
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Toys in Toyland
If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a toy inside of Santa’s sack, this is the wallpaper for you. This close and colorful design was most likely printed in France, and might best be described as the wildest Christmas-morning dreams of a child in the 1870s. Jack-in-the-boxes, toy trains and badminton racquets...
1957-43-7-ac
Merry Kitschmas: Mid-Century Cardboard Ornaments
These cubic cardboard ornaments are just the thing for an atomic holiday. Designed in 1956 by Van der Lanken and Lundquist and manufactured by Norse Craft, Inc., they were exhibited the next year at the 3rd annual American Package Design Competition held at Cooper Union and were subsequently given to the museum’s collection. A modern...
Meissonnier Mirror Interior
The Never Ending Hallway
Mirrors were still a relatively expensive item during the eighteenth century, but they continued to grow in fashion as technical developments made it possible for larger and larger panes to be produced. They appealed to patrons for their ability to reproduce light in darks rooms and served more vain purposes as a signifier of one’s...
1989-64-1
Design Doctor
The phantasmal world of Dr. Christopher Dresser’s ornamentation delights both the eye and the imagination. Dating from 1875, this iron hallstand features all the quintessential elements of Dr. Dresser’s highly stylized ornament. The “spikey” floral and figural motifs­­­­­­­­­­­—also recognizable in this illustration for two grotesque dado rails—and his angular interlaced arabesques are frequently used in...
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Pastoral Pastime
This French sidewall is machine-printed on a neutral ground and depicts a pastoral scene framed by leaves and vines. This type of wallpaper, called a “landscape figure,” originated in France and was extremely popular during the early nineteenth century. These formulaic patterns were composed of rows of two or three repeating vignettes with pastoral or...
1992-52-28-a_e
Getting a Grip on User-Inspired Design
Peeling potatoes is tedious enough without having to do battle with ill-designed kitchen gadgets. Why hadn’t these objects evolved to accommodate users, rather than the other way around? Sam Farber found himself wondering just that when he noticed his wife Betsey, who suffered from arthritis in her hands, struggling to use an old-fashioned peeler. Farber...
Drawing, Design for a Surtout de Table, for State Porcelain Service of Ismail, Khedive of Egypt, 1873–76. brush and watercolor, gouache, gold paint, black ink and wash, traces of graphite or black chalk on heavy tan wove paper. Museum purchase through gift of Levy-Hermanos Foundation, Inc. and Henry W. Safran Foundation, Inc. and from Friends of Drawings and Prints and Drawings and Prints Council Funds. 2000-8-1.
Egyptomania in Egypt
Throughout the 19th century, Egypt was considered to be nominally a province of the Ottoman Empire, although both France and Britain worked to assert influence and control in the country. Isma’il Pasha was a young man when succeeded his uncle as Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt in 1863. Isma’il presided over the country as it was...