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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A handheld light

Posted by Brenda Natoli, on Wednesday October 30, 2013

Our constant quest for illumination has driven such inventions as oil lamps, batteries, phosphorescent matches, electricity, the light bulb, and, most recently, LED technology. In the late 1890s, the first flashlight was conceived for safe handheld use. Powered by a large dry-cell battery pack, it generated only enough power for the light to shine for a moment or two at a time—ergo, the name “flashlight.” New York City police were among the first to use these early flashlights.

Flashlight, light, Eveready

Abstracted loom heddles

Posted by Susan Brown, on Tuesday October 29, 2013

Eszter Haraszty was head of Knoll’s textile division from 1950 to 1955. She also served as color consultant to Knoll Associates, and frequently collaborated with Herbert Matter on the company’s promotional materials. Her strong color sense had a major impact on the ‘Knoll Look,’ as she moved the company away from the earth tones popular at the time and developed a coordinated palette of bright, clear colors across the entire textile line.

Eszter Haraszty, Knoll Textiles, photography, Color

Horsehair jewelry

Posted by Sarah Coffin, on Monday October 28, 2013

The custom of keeping a locket of hair as a token of love, or as a relic of a holy figure, has existed for centuries. The idea of using hair for the structural part of jewelry became fashionable in the eighteenth century. By the 1830s, especially in England and the United States, all sorts of pendants, brooches, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets were made using human as well as horsehair. Commercial catalogues of the 1850s to 1870s mass-marketed these delicate designs. It is inspiring how a banal material can be reinvented into something precious.

jewelry, horsehair, necklace, bracelet

A questionable attribution

Posted by Gail Davidson, on Sunday October 27, 2013

This drawing, Interior of St. Peter's in Rome, has been attributed to Enneamond Alexandre Petitot, although it is likely that the drawing is by an unidentified artist working either in the circle of Giovanni Batista Piranesi or the workshop of Giuseppe Vasi, both of whom created scenes of notable monuments in Rome for the tourist trade in the mid eighteenth century. The drawing also bears comparison with the interior view of St.

Enneamond Alexandre Petitot, Giovanni Batista Piranesi, Giovanni Paolo Pannini, drawing

A continued tradition

Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Saturday October 26, 2013

This dress, woven by Lydia Novillo in a women’s cooperative in Formosa, Argentina, illustrates the continuation of an important South American textile tradition through a contemporary lens. The tradition stems from the weaving practices of the indigenous people of South America, the Wichi, who live primarily in Formosa, an isolated area in northern Argentina. Originally settling near the Bermejo and Pilcomayo Rivers, they were semi-nomadic, agricultural people who also relied on fishing during the dry season. For centuries they have used the fibers of the chaguar, from the bromeliad family, to weave fishing nets, bags, and other objects, which continue to sustain many of the communities today.

dress, South America, tradition, Lydia Novillo, chaguar, Argentina, weaving, crochet

Great British design from Glasgow

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Friday October 25, 2013

Isobar was designed by the Glasgow design Firm Timorous Beasties, established in 1990. White irregular circular motifs are in sharp contrast to the deep red background. This design was inspired by the isobar, which is a line on a chart or map used to indicate weather patterns or barometric readings. While a rather obscure thing to inspire a wallpaper, the designers have pulled it off beautifully.

The 302

Posted by Russell Flinchum, on Thursday October 24, 2013

When American designer Henry Dreyfuss began work as a consultant to Bell Telephone Laboratories (BTL) in 1930, he sought simplicity and unity of form in the installations of their equipment. He persuaded BTL to let him work with their engineers, and this collaboration resulted in the 302 telephone of 1937. The unified and balanced form of the 302 replaced the awkward and ungainly shapes of earlier models. Its successor, the 500 of 1949, was a response to the increased post-war demand for telephone service.

Henry Dreyfuss, Telephone, Bell Telephone Laboratories

Souvenir of a Ball

Posted by Elizabeth Chase, on Wednesday October 23, 2013

By the late nineteenth century, travel was an integral component of society life for both men and women. It was also an opportunity for displays of lavish wealth, and James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot’s print, relating to a painting of the same title, and the second in his set of three “social conversation pictures,” illustrates this trend. Treated in a light operatic manner, this romantic triangle, composed of two women and a gentleman, takes place on a ship deck set against the background of a grand harbor.

print, travel

A Blenko vase with applied decoration

Posted by Sarah Coffin, on Tuesday October 22, 2013

Blenko glass represents the combination of technological advances in glassmaking with the original designs created by designers, with a focus on color, a key part of it impact. First producing flat glass for windows, including stained glass for the windows of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the company earned national recognition especially for the creation of a strong red glass that could be double fired. Red is a notoriously fugitive color in glass, and the ability for it to be double fired and not lose color enabled enamel painters to paint on it.

Blenko, Glass

Maiden & Moonflower

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Monday October 21, 2013

Maiden & Moonflower was created by Kiki Smith for an exhibition of her work at the Museum Haus Esters in Germany in 2008, and has since gone into commercial production. The scene depicts a star-filled sky, surrounding a woman standing beneath a tree bough. It addresses the spiritual and eternal aspects of human nature, and speaks of our solitary journey, all the while connected to nature.

Kiki Smith, wallcovering, screen-print