Object of the Day

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Silk kasuri kimono fabric by Junichi Arai (Japanese, b. 1932)
From Gray to Black
This extraordinary kimono length transitions over its forty-five foot span from gray at one end to black at the other, creating a striking diagonal composition. The flawless line of the diagonal and the evenness of the gray color, the result of crossing white warps with black wefts, is a testament to the skill of the...
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In Line
In Line, a wallpaper designed by prolific illustrator Ilonka Karasz, appears here as pages from a 1948 sample book, which originally contained the work of forty leading contemporary designers. Square blocks, each composed of a creatively arranged, continuous zigzag line, are stacked up like Tetris tiles on a dark-eggplant colored ground. The blocks are rendered...
1907-14-3-a:e
A Patriotic Chair
What did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, General Knox, and Benjamin Franklin have in common? Windsor chairs. These chairs were first produced in England in the very first years of the 18th century. Although many folk tales surround the origin of the name (including some involving George III caught in a rain storm), it is likely...
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Watercolor Wallpaper
Many of the wallcoverings in the Cooper Hewitt’s collection were created by designers better known for their work in the fine arts. This sidewall, c. 1927, was designed by Charles Burchfield, a much-loved American watercolorist. A mint-green trellis embellished with cross-hatching divides the panel into regular diamond-shaped cells. Each cell contains a stencil-like image of...
1963-39-119 Matt Flynn_eo
Laws of Attraction
American-born E. McKnight Kauffer is perhaps best known for his series of ground-breaking poster designs produced for the London Underground in the 1920s and 1930s. Widely recognized as one of the greatest graphic designers of early twentieth century Europe, Kauffer, who lived for much of his career in London, was influenced heavily by the work...
Mourning fan, Paris, France, 1885–90
Accessory to Grief
In Europe and the US, middle- and upper-class women followed strict and complicated etiquette guidelines in daily life, including after a family member’s death. Etiquette dictated that a survivor follow at least two phases of mourning—deep followed by half, or second, mourning—to publicly proclaim her grief. Deep mourning, when she was expected to seclude herself...
An early metal toaster in a diamond shape with a visible heating elements and metal frames to hold the toast on either side. Roughly rectangular cast metal base with small decorative floral designs near the feet; two cylindrical buttons on one side. Small pendant knobs on opposite sides of toaster.
Sweetheart Toaster
Landers Frary & Clark was one of the first American companies to manufacture electrical home appliances: in 1908 they introduced an electric coffee percolator and 1912 saw the release of an electric iron. These new products added to the company’s line of household products that they had marketed since the 1890s under the trade name...
Screen printed silk scarf by Ascher Squares, 1947, England
Scarf Art
This headscarf is one of a series known as the Ascher Squares, produced as part of an historic collaboration between Ascher Studios, an haute couture textile company in London, and more than fifty modern artists, including Henry Moore, Jean Cocteau, Alexander Calder, and painter André Derain, who designed the headscarf featured here. Ascher Studios gave...
A color photo of two brides holding hands, and mouths open as though yelling. One woman with a thought bubble that reads: “Not what I had / in mind!” They are standing on a table covered with silver and china. Across the poster, in pink: “Is it worth being / Boring / for a Blender?” Lower margin: “GAY MARRIAGE / You might as well be straight.” Upper left: “Poster sponsored / in part by / HX FOR HER / NEW YORK CITY”. Upper right: “ANOTHER PUBLIC ART PROJECT BROUGHT TO YOU BY / DAM! [DYKE ACTION MACHINE] / dam@echonyc.com.
Gays Against Gay Marriage
This provocative poster was designed in 1997, one year after the US Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act. Known simply as “DOMA,” the Act barred same-sex married couples from being recognized by federal law. The poster is the work of Dyke Action Machine!, a New York activist duo consisting of photographer Sue Schaffner and...