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Though Marburger Tapetenfabrik is among the oldest wallpaper manufacturers in Europe, in the 1950s they eschewed traditional patterns and became one of the many companies producing ‘contemporary’ designs meant to compliment the new, modern houses popping up all over Europe and America in the building booms following World War II. What, exactly, made wallpaper contemporary...
Textile, silk and metallic thread, 15th century, Spain
Spanish Lampas with Spotted Cats
This Spanish textile features confronted leopards or cheetahs within a geometric framework, an enduring motif that probably originated in early Islamic Egypt or Persia. Woven in the 15th century by Islamic weavers, this silk lampas may have been produced in Almería, a center of silk production in Andalucía and a source of blue and gold...
Ivory colored square-topped vanity table with black-lacquered lid, hinged at back, that opens to reveal mirror and two long lights; four tapered and stepped legs. Lacquered square-topped stool with tapered and stepped legs.
Bring Beauty Into Your Bathroom
Lurelle Guild was a prolific industrial designer, producing useful and beautiful objects that modernized the American home spanning from vacuum cleaners to canapé plates. Guild’s usual method was to invent or develop the new product, patent it, and then assign the patent to the manufacturer, charging a fee and royalties. In 1933 and 1934 he...
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Bawden’s Pastoral View
Edward Bawden was a watercolorist, book illustrator, mural painter, and designer. He was inspired to design his first wallpaper after viewing the Daisy pattern by William Morris in an exhibition in 1925. Bawden’s preferred method of printing was the linoleum block at which he became quite adept. Harold Curwen, of the Curwen Press, saw some...
Image of a red flying plane. Surrounded by small vignettes
What do you want to be when you grow up?
In 1940, with World War II already underway, it seemed inevitable that America would soon be joining the fight against the Axis powers. The U.S. Army Air Corps published this recruitment poster shown above. The imagery utilized by an unknown graphic designer romanticized participation in the academy’s cadet program. The montage of photographs showcase cutting-edge planes...
Fall cap, silk bobbin lace, France, 19th century
A Fashionable Headdress
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a lace cap with a pair of long streamers was a popular headdress for women. The most fashionable cap streamers were made of delicate bobbin or needle lace. These cap streamers or lappets were sometimes pinned up, but often they hung loose about the sides or back of the...
Square with greenish-blue ground having white decoration consisting of a kneeling woman wearing conical hat, long robe, watering a plant in classical vase at left, from which a cherub rises.
Watering Cupid
This pâte-sur-pâte glazed porcelain plaque, made by Mintons Ltd. in about 1909, reflects the humor and creativity of its designer, Marc Louis Emanuel Solon (1835-1913). Pâte-sur-pâte is a complex, time-consuming technique, which requires the designer to apply successive thin layers of liquid clay onto a tinted clay body in order to create a design. The...
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An Austrian in New York City
This lovely midcentury American wallpaper, entitled Calling Card, was designed by celebrated New York decorator Beryl Austrian, and was meant to invoke the old time grandeur of 1830s Washington Square. Two columns of mint green vines crawl their way up a gray background, forming continuous chains of leafy circles. Alternating circles contain a vignette showing...
Image of a man and a woman in a rustic background
The Original Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet’s story is known across the world, but what about the tale that serves as the foundation for Shakespeare’s work? Ovid’s Metamorphosis tells the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe; like Romeo and Juliet, these two were young lovers forbidden to wed because of a long-standing rivalry between their families. Their love grew through...