Object of the Day

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Telephone, "Princess", ca. 1960 Molded plastic, metal. Designed by Henry Dreyfuss Associates. Designed by Henry Dreyfuss. Manufactured by Western Electric Manufacturing Company. Client: Bell Telephone Company. 1990-1-1.
Princess Phone, Henry Dreyfuss
For much of the twentieth century, telephones were standard issue, designed for durability and function rather than consumer appeal. After 1953, color transformed the telephone from a basic technology into an alluring consumer product. AT&T ran ad campaigns encouraging women to see the phone as an element of home decoration. What if new phone models...
Model 500 Telephone, 1953 (introduced in 1949). Designed by Henry Dreyfuss (American, 1904–72), Henry Dreyfuss & Associates (USA) for Bell Laboratories (USA). Manufactured by Western Electric Manufacturing Company (USA). Molded plastic, metal, rubber, electronic components. Collection Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2009-50-1-a/c. Photography: Ellen McDermott.
Model 500 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
Henry Dreyfuss’s earlier Model 302 was a beautiful sculptural object, but it had usability problems. The triangular profile of the handset caused the device to turn when cradled against the shoulder—the design didn’t account for people’s intuitive desire to talk hands-free. Dreyfuss addressed this issue with the Model 500, introduced in 1949. To create the...
Model 302 Telephone, 1937. Designed by Henry Dreyfuss (American, 1904–72) for Bell Telephone Company (USA). Manufactured by Western Electric Manufacturing Company (USA). Cast metal, enamel-coated steel, paper, rubber-sheathed cord, electronic components. Collection Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, museum purchase from the Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund, 1994-73-2. Photography: Hiro Ihara.
Model 302 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
In the 1930s, Bell Labs asked Henry Dreyfuss to create a new telephone set, to be used across AT&T’s vast phone system. Dreyfuss was a young man and an emerging voice in the field of industrial design. Designers including Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague were reinventing the point of contact between people and...
Sampler is divided into compartments with vases, birds, and flowers. Those compartments with text are composed in the form of a rebus or pictogram. Sampler is edged with tatting. Contains the following text in Spanish
Love Unites Us
  a sampler might say “noli timere” be not afraid. but this sampler says “love unites us” in the end, we are all alone. but somewhere we also learn the elusive truth that there is love. love of life and beauty, knowledge and kindness. love unites us is not a bad thing to read on...
Two library books, Alice in Wonderland and Winnie-The-Pooh
Two Books
The two greatest children’s books of all time. They transcend time and place and age. They are wise and funny. You will be grateful to read them every few years. When you hold a (real) book in your hands, the molecules in your body rejoice. They are flooded with peace and expectation. Nothing else gives that feeling....
Light bulb-shaped clear glass globe enclosing clear glass light bulb with silvered top; cylindrical, chromed metal base in shape of socket with horzontal ridges.
A Bulb Within A Bulb
It is very comforting to come home in the evening and turn on a light. ideally, it is not a fluorescent hanging from the ceiling. something soft and gentle. something to welcome in the night. something with a dimmer switch to modulate the mood. i love light bulbs. they tell a very straightforward story. they...
Printed handkerchief with a three-quarter portrait bust of Queen Victoria in the center. At the top, "In Memoriam." At the bottom: "Alexandrina - Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Empress of India." On the left side: "Born in Kensington Palace May 24th, 1819." On the right side "Died in Osborne House Jan'y 22nd, 1901." Printed in black on a white ground, with a black and white striped border.
In Memoriam
Another sour puss. What is this show? Does it feel more real to pout than to preen? She was devastated when her beloved Albert died. It feels as if she never laughed again. But she had a job to do. It is important to have work. Someone can sell buckets. Someone can be Empress of...
Maira Kalman paintings of Zig-Zag chair and a kantharos.
Loopy and Exalted
This chair is not comfortable to sit on, which defies the idea of a chair. But it is sublime and necessary. What is the obligation of the designer? What are we supposed to feel or do with the things around us? Reitveld was rigorous about what he would allow in a room. That is a...
Maira Kalman's painting of a square of wool tapestry containing an almost frontal bust of a woman with dark hair knotted at the back, gazing to her left, on a red ground. Broad frame imitating gold set with cabochons and rectangular faceted jewels in blue, green, red and white. The woman is wearing a pink garment with perhaps a mantle of sky blue on her right shoulder; she wears a white band in her hair, which is mingled dark blue and brown wefts.
We Begin With a Portrait
The phone rings. In 2011 I was invited by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City to curate an exhibit based on their collection. Like a shopper in some great, mad department store that housed many centuries’ worth of objects, I browsed and inspected their archives for a year or so. The...