Object of the Day

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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...
depicting the temple in its semi-ruined state as visible in the 18th and early nineteenth centuries, showing the circular section building with columns ringing a central core, supporting an upper moulding
Cork for more than Wine–The Temple of Vesta, Tivoli
The Temple of Vesta in Tivoli is one of the most illustrated and visited of the ruins of antiquity. It featured heavily in paintings and engravings as well as being the subject of model making. One important example, is a cork model a recent addition to the models collection at Cooper Hewitt, made in either...
the circular building with rusticated lower tier supporting set back upper tier with double columns between window bays, alternating blind and paned windows, surmounted by a domed top with finials around and a spire above, all replicating the Radcliffe Camera building in Oxford England.
An Epicenter of Learning: The Radcliffe Camera
Anyone who has seen Inspector Morse or Lewis pursue the latest murder in the academic city of Oxford, England, will recognize this beacon of academia rising up amidst the Gothic colleges of Oxford University. Centrally located it is an important architectural landmark, designed in baroque style with Palladian elements to be the university’s Radcliffe Science...
Double-revolution staircase model with curved double staircase with baluster railings, joining on a central landing from which a reverse single staircase rises at right angles, leading to a balcony;
Descending the Stairs in a Grand Manner
This model, like some of the others in the Cooper Hewitt collection, is from the compagnonnage tradition in France that taught design through drawing and model making. The degree of complexity of the curved and bentwood framing of the staircase itself, combined with the second level that reverses itself rising to a balcony, make this...
with central column around which a bombe spiral staircase rotates terminating in a similarly curved inverted cone form standing area of the pulpit surmounted by a carved scroll canopy attached above to the column, all resting a rectangular geometrically inlaid marquetry floor-base
A Staircase to Heaven?
There are many types of staircase models in the Thaw collection, much of which was donated in 2007 to Cooper Hewitt, to coincide with an exhibition Made to Scale: Staircase Masterpieces The Eugene and Clare Thaw Gift that I was lucky enough to curate after studying their significance for the acquisition. Joan K. Davidson, whose...