Object of the Day

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Through the Looking Glass
Does this object look familiar to you? If you’ve ever used a Google Cardboard, or if you grew up playing with a View-Master, you might recognize this stereoscope as a precursor of today’s virtual reality (VR) viewers. The first stereoscope was developed by the British scientist Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, just before the invention...
firework
Fleeting Beauty
Written by Rayna Wang. Pyrotechnics, The History and Art of Firework Making, from the rare book collection at Cooper Hewitt’s design library, is illustrated with several wood-block prints of Japanese fireworks made by Hirayama Firework factory in Yokohama, Japan in the late 19th century. Fireworks were firstly developed in China, then Japanese pyrotechnics developed them...
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Pleating the Walls
Here is an interesting version of a drapery wallpaper design. Wallpapers imitating draperies have been a small but elegant genre since the time of Napolean, when walls draped in fabric were popularized by the design and decorating team of Percier and Fontaine, largely credited with creating the Empire style. Many of the finer papers were...
Brooch in artform holder
The Secret Life Of Jewelry
Ever wonder what your jewelry does when you aren’t wearing it? This brooch by the British art jeweler and goldsmith Kevin Coates demonstrates Coates grappling with this question. When Coates creates a piece of jewelry he often also designs an elaborate and beautiful housing for it to live in when not being worn, allowing the...
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Ceramic Seashells at the Seashore
Against a bright seascape, the type that reminds one so strongly of a summer day at the beach that it is almost possible to smell the salty air, oversized and misshapen shells are scattered haphazardly.  They fill the foreground of Royal Copenhagen’s poster like beached whales: awkward, commanding, and strangely beautiful.  The storied Danish ceramics...
Textile, USA, 1949, designed by George Nelson (American, 1907–1986), manufactured by Schiffer Prints (a division of Mil-Arts Co.), founded 1945, Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund, 2015-19-3
Revitalizing An Industry
In the aftermath of World War II, a number of textile producers attempted to revitalize the industry by enlisting recognized personalities in art and architecture to design screen prints. “Perhaps the most outstanding name collection is Stimulus Fabrics produced by Schiffer Prints,” Alvin Lustig wrote in American Fabrics Magazine in 1951. “There was not a...
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The Writing is on the Wall
It is easy to see why Nitty Gritty would be such a hit with the “younger generation.” It’s fun, it’s different, something not seen before in wallpaper designs. Nitty Gritty is formatted in a graffiti-style, with all the words and slogans written as they might appear in phone booths or lockers. Sayings like Sock it...
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A Gift for Marie Antoinette
The initials “MA” in the central cartouche of this iron music stand belong to Marie Antoinette, who married the future Louis XVI of France in May of 1770. Winged putti fly over a musical score carrying banderoles inscribed with the surnames of Baroque French composers, including that of Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687), whose opera Persée was...
soundoff
Sound Off!
Alvin Lustig was one of the most influential graphic designers of mid-20th century America, despite the unfortunate brevity of his career. Well-known for his designs of books, book jackets, and magazines, Lustig also designed several record jackets for albums of classical and concert band music. Four such albums bearing Lustig’s design are featured in Cooper Hewitt’s...