Object of the Day

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Rip Van Wallpaper
Wallpaper, like all design, can be a powerful tool for communicating a specific message. Take for example wallpapers printed during the French Revolution that portrayed ribbons of red, white and blue in support of the uprising. On this object, however, a message has been spelled-out right on top of the design, the pattern becoming a...
2016-5-1_3
Dining with a Triangle
Geometry has always been a friend of the dinner table. During the 18th century both the hexagon and octagon were part of the repertoire of shapes used for plates, teapots, and other dining accoutrements in Europe, as seen in these English Queen Anne style silver salts dating from 1717 and this Chinese export armorial plate...
Textile, early 20th century, Manchester, England for African market, cotton printed by engraved roller, Gift of Elizabeth Riefstahl, 1953-90-14
Imitation Embroidery for Export
This fabric, printed in Manchester, England for the African market, has a design which imitates the embroidered gowns worn by Hausa men in Nigera. The design of the embroideries is believed to have been influenced by men who learned the art of calligraphy from studying the Qur’an, and reflect an identification with Islam. They are...
2016-5-13
Let’s Rock
Japanese-American sculptor and designer Isamu Noguchi designed this simple, stylish stool for Knoll in 1954. Noguchi went to Paris in the 1920s, and worked in the studio of Constantin Brancusi from 1927–29. He also met Alexander Calder and Alberto Giacometti during this time – all three of these sculptors and their work would remain as...
Large charcoal drawing of the stage for "King Lear" scene two. The stage itself is black and the backdrop is white and grey. At left, a tall, straight-backed chair. In center, extending from backdrop to front of stage, is a long, flat bed.
Wilson Lights the Lights
If anyone has come to know seminal avant-garde theatre director Robert Wilson, they will have witnessed the autodidact hard at work sketching. Whether backstage at a major European opera house or cramped into an economy-class plane seat—flying over the Alps to simulate the intensity of a Wagner aria—he always garners silence when drawing. When at...
2013-41-1
A Place for Everything
Herman Miller introduced George Nelson’s Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) in 1959 and produced it until 1973. Available in a variety of wood finishes, the CSS could also be customized to fit the needs of customers, thanks to its modular units that included shelves, drawers, and desk units, such as the CSS in the museum’s collection....
Presentation drawing for the Comte de Rambuteau: At the fountain base, at the center of the main basin, are six nude figures personifying the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and four symbols of maritime fishing industries; these figures sit on prows of ships. Above them (and between the basin tier and the crowning cap) are four genii, between each of which is a dolphin (below) and a swan (above) sending jets of water into the basin tier. At the top of the fountain is a mushroom-shaped cap from which water spills to a basin tier, which in turn spills a profusion of water to the larger main basin at ground level. At the perifery of the fountain are nereid figures, each holding a fish which spouts a jet backwards towards the center of the fountain.
Place de la Concorde
This splendid presentation drawing was prepared for the prestigious civic commission to redesign the Place de la Concorde, one of the great public squares of Paris. When the viceroy of Egypt, Muḥammad ʿAlī, offered France an obelisk from the reign of Ramses II as a gift in 1831, the German-born designer Jakob Ignaz Hittorff was...
Sample, USA, 1958, designed by Alexander Hayden Girard, American, 1907–1993, screen printed with discharged on 40% cotton, 15% rayon, 45% mohair, Gift of Alexander H. Girard, 1969-165-165
City Blocks
Alexander Girard produced over three hundred textile designs during his almost thirty-year tenure at Herman Miller, an important American furniture company and promoter of modern design. That Girard was trained as an architect should come as no surprise – like many architects of his generation, he had experienced firsthand the challenge of finding textiles appropriate...
American Modern Brochure
Modern Times
This fold out brochure is in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt Library Special Collections. It’s accompanied by a price list and order form, created by manufacturer Steubenville Pottery Company of Steubenville, Ohio and dating between 1939 and 1959, promotes more than 30 pieces of American Modern dinnerware designed by industrial designer Russel Wright (1904-1976). ...