Object of the Day

Discover a different object from the Museum’s collection every day of the week!

Museum curators, conservators, and educators, as well as design enthusiasts like our teen Design Scholars, docents, and Master’s students, are sharing their favorite objects from Cooper-Hewitt’s incredible collection.

Many of these objects will be featured in the expanded collection galleries when Cooper-Hewitt reopens in 2014. Until then, “Object of the Day” is your uniquely-curated corner of the Museum!

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Stitched Samplers: Voices from the Past

Posted by Sarah Freeman, on Tuesday January 07, 2014

What were you doing when you were twelve years old: riding bikes with friends, lip synching to your favorite band, watching bad TV shows, making cookies? I might have a hard time remembering exactly what occupied my time when I was twelve, but I am absolutely certain that I was not embroidering an intricate sampler as Margaret Barnholt was in 1831.

sampler, embroidery, silk, cotton, Church, weeping willow, alphabet, numbers, needlework

Sticky Decorations

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Monday January 06, 2014

I have always been curious and slightly amused by wallpapers containing imagery of cob webs. Seems to me people are always taking brooms and vacuum extensions to get rid of these pesky things and I could not understand why people would buy papers with these spider-inspired motifs to decorate their homes. The sample I’m showing was produced from 1906-08 and was available in five different colorways, all very pale shades of off-white, yellow and green. Due to the very pale coloring and subtle patterning I would assume these were intended to be used as ceiling papers.

wallpaper, spider web, cobweb, ceiling design, Tiffany, William Justema, Marthe Armitage

A Jeweled Temptation

Posted by Caitlin Condell, on Sunday January 05, 2014

In the 1590s, life as a Huguenot in France was tenuous.  Daniel Mignot, a trained goldsmith, must have felt this acutely, for he left his native France and re-established himself in the city of Augsburg, in present day Germany.  While Augsburg offered him the religious freedom to live openly as a Protestant, the city’s laws prevented Mignot, as a foreigner, from practicing his craft.  Mignot turned to printmaking as a way of showcasing and disseminating his innovative designs for jewelry.  It also proved to be a lucrative form of generating income. 

Daniel Mignot, Jan Theodor de Bry, jewelry design, enamel, temptation, virtue, engraving, blackwork, rings

American Modern, made in India

Posted by Susan Brown, on Saturday January 04, 2014

Sheila Hicks has lived and worked in many countries, and always immerses herself fully in the culture. In 1965, she was approached by a representative of Commonwealth Trust of Calicut, Kerala, India. CommTrust was (and is) the longest continually operating hand-weaving mill in India. The mill had thousands of highly skilled weavers, but their fabrics were rejected by European buyers as incompatible with modern furniture. Hicks had been suggested more than once as a textile designer whose ideas were at the forefront of contemporary design thinking.

Sheila Hicks, CommTrust, Kerala India, hand weaving

Make Every Day a Dog Day

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Friday January 03, 2014

I was recently scrolling through images of wallpapers in the collection and was surprised and delighted to see how many of them contained images of dogs. While dogs appear on wallpapers intended for adults as well as children, the imagery on papers for children is far more amusing and the focus of this blog. The early 20th century was the highpoint of children’s wallpaper design and many delightful wallpapers for children were created.

wallpaper, border, dog, Children, William Wegman, Walter Crane

Take a Flying Leap

Posted by Gail S. Davidson, on Thursday January 02, 2014

René Lalique has long been considered the most brilliant and original French Art Nouveau designer of jewelry and glass.  His lifelong study of nature in drawings and photographs including wildflowers and rare floral species, animals and insects such as swans, bats, birds, and dragonflies provided the unusual repertory for his jewelry and accessories.  In place of traditional gemstones, Lalique developed a technique of incorporating non-precious stones including opals with enamel on materials such as ivory and horn that changed the look of nineteenth-century jewelry.

Rene Lalique, Art Nouveau, drawing, jewelry, fish, comb, nature

Bottoms up!

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Wednesday January 01, 2014

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

Festive Foil?

Posted by Sarah D. Coffin, on Tuesday December 31, 2013

The holiday season brings out the idea at least of festive parties, and, to some, that means putting on fancy clothes and jewelry.  The idea of glittering adornment to dazzle goes back to antiquity and gold has been a constant. However, innovative use of new materials, so popular now, is not new. The choice of materials is ever evolving. 

jewelry, aluminum, gold, Empress Eugenie, Queen Victoria, Crystal Palace, innovation, demi-parure, brooch, earrings

A carriage fit for an Earl

Posted by Kristina Parsons, on Monday December 30, 2013

Roger Palmer, the first Earl of Castlemaine, was an English writer, diplomat and courtier who sat in the House of Commons. Palmer was a devout Roman Catholic and a staunch supporter of the Stuart Monarchy. Palmer’s loyalty was so committed that he even  acquiesced to the appointment of his wife, Barbara Villiers as Charles II’s favored mistress. It is in honor of his wife’s services in the King’s bedchamber that Palmer received his title as Earl of Castlemaine, and not for his service in the King’s court.

Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemaine, england, diplomacy, travel, transportation, treason, carriage, ostentation, print, engraving, baroque

One Woman’s Fancy is another’s Necessaire.

Posted by Sarah Coffin, on Sunday December 29, 2013

This charming little object-an étui or case, is also called a necessaire.

étui, necessaire, scissors, rococo, Diana, accessory, enamel