Cynthia Trope

A Moderne Woman


Virginia Hamill, one of the first American women in the field of industrial design, called herself a “decorative art consultant.” Under this broad title, she gained prominence as an exhibition organizer and designer, retail merchandiser, product stylist, and interior designer and educator. She was influential in her use of department store exhibitions to introduce European modernist design to mainstream American consumers. Hamill may be best known as the Executive Director of R.H.
Virginia Hamill, Jean George Theobald, tea, pewter, Industrial Design, modernism

The smaller the better


Wow! I remember thinking that as a youngster, when I first saw the slightly flickering black and white picture on the Sony portable TV at a friend’s house—on the patio. That was the last place I could imagine anything like a television, something I had previously experienced only as a piece of furniture in people’s living rooms.
Portable television, Sony, Japan, Industrial Design, miniaturization

Bottoms up!


These simple, sculptural goblets, named Paro (“I protect” in Italian), were designed by Italian industrial designer and design educator, Achille Castiglioni. A major figure in twentieth-century design, Castiglioni was known for bringing a curious and inventive sensibility to solving design problems and investigating materials and processes. Paro’s cleverly designed versatile form is reversible, having both deep and shallow cone-shaped bowls suitable for either red or white wine.
goblet, Glass, Achille Castiglione, red wine, white wine, blown glass, oxidization

Before phones became gifts


"I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's!" whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. "He shan't know who sends it...."[1]
Telephone, Tiffany & Co., silver

A chair for all seasons


The Landi chair, created by the self-taught designer Hans Coray, was one of the first highly successful designs for seating furniture using sheet aluminum, a relatively new material in the 1930s. Introduced in Zurich, at the 1939 Swiss National Exhibition (Schweizerische Landesaustellung, nicknamed “Landi”), the chair was the official seating for the exhibition grounds.
chair, furniture, aluminum, Hans Coray, Switzerland, Industrial Design

A Frozen Explosion


Fascinated by what he calls the "magical and mystical" qualities of light, lighting designer Ingo Maurer plays with conventional notions of brightness, shadow, and color. Trained as a typographer and graphic artist, Maurer worked in the United States before returning to Europe in 1963, where he was active as a graphic designer.
lamp, Ingo Maurer, light, lighting design, Porcelain, stainless steel, halogen bulb

A Sewing Machine in Miniature


The craft of sewing is over 20,000 years old. The first needles were made of bone, antler, or horn, used to stitch together animal hides with thread-like sinew. Over time, thread and woven textiles became prevalent and there were advances in sewing tools—the earliest iron needles date from the fourteenth century, and the eyed needle was invented in the fifteenth century—but one thing remained constant: all sewing was done by hand.
Sewing machine, miniature, filigree, silver

A Way With Wood


When I first saw this console by the Japanese-American master woodworker and furniture maker, George Nakashima, I was, and still am, struck by the wonderful twelve-foot long expanse of wood that is the console top. It seems to be a celebration of the material, of the tree it came from—a warm-toned surface with a silky, nuanced grain and soft contoured edges, a surface that invites you to look, study, touch and run your hand along to feel it, even to tap it, hear it.
George Nakashima, wood, walnut, pandana, furniture

"The Latest Radio Success"


Raymond Loewy was one of the most prominent industrial designers in the United States.  A French émigré, he began practicing in the new field of industrial design in New York City in the 1920s.
radio, Industrial Design, Catalin, Raymond Loewy, Colonial Radio Company

The Wright Stuff


One hundred and ten years ago, Orville and Wilbur Wright launched their first flyer—it became the first powered, heavier-than-air machine to make a controlled, sustained, manned flight. By 1905, the brothers launched their third flyer, which solved many of the pitch problems in their previous two models. In October of that year, Wilbur made a series of circling flights ending in safe landings, the longest covering nearly 25 miles and lasting almost 40 minutes.
Wright brothers, matchsafe, aviation, commemorative

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