Object of the Day

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For the Love of Books
Today, let’s talk books. Or rather, a trompe l’oeil wallpaper printed to appear like a well-stocked bookcase in someone’s library. This is one of the livelier, not to mention convincing, bookcase wallpapers I have seen. And it’s no wonder, it was created by the brilliant decorator, muralist and trompe l’oeil painter Richard Lowell Neas. Many...
Day and Night
During the mass digitization project at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, which has been under way for the last year, twenty Megalethoscope plates of unknown origin were discovered in our storage facility. The Cooper Hewitt’s Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department collection contains a photostat of an advertisement from the early 1860’s that illustrates the...
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The Doughnut
Conjuring up the round abstract shapes and bold colors of Alexander Calder’s hanging mobiles and graphic work, this teapot’s unique shape stands out amongst many of the teapots created by the Hall China Company during the 1930s and 1940s. Making its debut in 1938, the Doughnut teapot was one of several novelty designs created by...
Fragment, Peru, 1100-1400, plain weave with discontinuous and interlocked warps and wefts
An Elegant Duality
Andean cloth has many meanings. Some are expressed through complex iconographic representations, others employ a strictly geometric vocabulary. Another form of meaning comes from the materiality of the cloth itself and way it was made. This simple cloth is composed of interlocking stepped squares in contrasting colors. The duality of the design, like the Chinese...
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It’s Black and White and Read All Over
White Room with Text takes Tracy Kendall’s signature cut and sewn construction one step further with the addition of text. This paper is based on Kendall’s In the White Room first produced in 2002 when it was shown at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York. This is another design from Kendall’s collection...
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The Charming Bouquinistes of Paris
This lithograph, by artist Paul Jeffay (1898-1957) depicts the Left Bank of Paris, France, on what appears to be the Quai de la Tournelle. The main focus of the piece is on the bouquinistes, green boxes that line the Seine in the center of Paris, out of which booksellers sell used and antiquarian books. In...
Cap, Egypt, late 13th–early 14th century, quilted and embroidered silk with gilded parchment
A Quilted Cap
This cap was used in Mamluk Egypt, a period during which textiles were perhaps the most precious items in Islamic society. Its finely-woven blue silk fabric is interlaced with ‘strap gold’: strips of membrane coated with real gold foil, making it among the most expensive and desired fabric types in Egypt at this time. The...
Bourdalou
Not a Gravy Boat
At first glance, you might think this is a sauce bowl or pitcher used at the dinner table. However, it is something quite different all together, and would most definitely be an unwelcome addition to a table spread. The bourdalou, in fact, was a type of chamber pot that was specifically used by women up...
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Having your vegetables and eating them too
The famous silver tureens that the eighteenth–century silversmith Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier designed for England’s Duke of Kingston may be the most celebrated objects of his career. They were etched in a double-page spread in Oeuvre de Juste-Aurele Meissonnier published by Gabriel Huquier around 1748. This volume is one of the rare books acquired by the Cooper...