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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HorseMove ProjectSpace poster

Posted by Gail Davidson, on Sunday November 03, 2013

This exhibition poster by Michiel Schuurman for the HorseMove ProjectSpace explores optical disunity, utilizing computer technologies to create endless patterns of replication and visual complication. These computerized distortions obliterate the easy reading of the poster, which challenges the conceptual bias of the printed poster as a means for conveying information. The visual bombardment of the repeated forms compels the viewer to look harder to decipher the information.

Michiel Schuurman, HorseMove ProjectSpace, poster, replication

Birdcage fishbowl

Posted by Elizabeth Chase, on Saturday November 02, 2013

This object, a rare combination of a birdcage and fishbowl, from The Netherlands in the early nineteenth century, expresses the eclectic tendencies of this period. The square birdcage serves as the base for a spherical, double-walled, blown-glass fishbowl. The roof of the wooden box is retractable, creating an opening into the inverted inner glass bowl. Ostensibly, the bird could fly up into this globe and appear to be swimming with the fish. The birdcage, made of mahogany, features wire details on the windows. The fishbowl is decorated with a polychrome enameled landscape scene of a castle-like building atop a rocky island, with boats and sailing ships at sea. One ship is flying a red, white, and blue Dutch flag.

Birdcage, fishbowl, The Netherlands, Victorian


Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Friday November 01, 2013

Jorge Lizarazo is the owner and founder of Hechizoo, a textile firm based in Colombia. Lizarazo originally worked as an architect, which has influenced his textiles in terms of structural clarity and use of materials. His designs also benefit from his staff, who bring with them an expertise in the rich weaving traditions of their region. He trains his staff to work with new and unusual materials that complement the often understated and basic textile structure.

Hechizoo, Colombia, tradition, weaving


Posted by Gail Davidson, on Thursday October 31, 2013

Ralph Schraivogel is a celebrated contemporary Swiss poster designer, whose work often plays with curving pattern, image, and type to create ambiguous spatial effects. The poster presented here, Paul Newman, Filmpodium Zurich, evolves from a quite different design aesthetic and tradition. This compelling poster has been compared to the inventive, puzzle like, modernist posters of Paul Rand, especially Rand's Dada poster (1951) which invites reading in both a vertical and horizontal orientation. 

Ralph Schraivogel, poster, Swiss graphic design

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.