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 battle between nature and plastic

Posted by Cynthia Smith, on Monday October 14, 2013

The Campana Brothers’ TransPlastic collection tells a fictional story: in a world made of plastic, nature grows from the plastic and overpowers it. This conceptual collection reflects the Campanas’ preference for juxtaposing contrasting materials and manipulating the scale of domestic furniture. The series treats the natural fiber as clothing or a prosthetic addition, transforming the furniture’s original shape with organically shaped extensions.

Campana Brothers Select, Campana Brothers, chair, plastic, Brazil

An ornate cricket cage

Posted by Elizabeth Chase, on Sunday October 13, 2013

This cricket cage is part of a group from Italy and Japan given to the Museum by the Hewitt sisters, demonstrating their eccentric taste. There is a longstanding appreciation in Japan and Asia of singing insects, such as cicadas and crickets. The custom of visiting places known for the abundance and quality of singing insects has been a treasured seasonal pleasure in Japan, akin to the viewing of cherry blossoms. Among the most valued of crickets was the kirigirisu, esteemed for its rhythmic chirp and as a harbinger of frost.

Cricket cage, Hewitt sisters, Japan, 19th century

Original Copy

Posted by Kristina Parsons, on Saturday October 12, 2013

Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s renown for still-lifes and hunting scenes can be traced back to an enthusiastic review at the annual Exposition de la Jeunesse that was held on the feast of Corpus Christi in the Palace Dauphine, Paris in the early 1720s. His depictions of the spoils of the hunt were impressive not only for their rich and naturalistic depiction of objects and figures, but also for the ingenious arrangement of objects and overall composition.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry, drawing, copy, still life, Louis VX, parrot, fish

The round thermostat

Posted by Russell Flinchum, on Friday October 11, 2013

Dreyfuss modernized the appearance of Honeywell’s thermostats in the 1930s; among the first was the Chronotherm, which incorporated a “digital” clock into its display. Dreyfuss was frustrated, however, that rectangular thermostats never seemed to hang squarely on the wall. Work began on a round thermostat in 1940. Placing all the elements in a circular form was more difficult than it first seemed; attempts to make a curved thermometer were especially problematic. World War II halted the development program but helped provide technical solutions.

Henry Dreyfuss, Honeywell, thermostat

A cartogram of global internet use

Posted by Ellen Lupton, on Thursday October 10, 2013

Most maps are built around representations of geographical land mass. Worldmapper show us something different. This collaborative team of cartographers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Michigan is exploring the uneven effects of globalization. Rather than depict how much land a given territory occupies, each map shows how a social or economic activity—from emigration to cell phone use—is distributed across the globe.

Worldmapper, cartogram, algorithm


Posted by Susan Brown, on Wednesday October 09, 2013

Gretl and Leo Wollner met and married in the late 1940s while studying textile design under Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill, founder of the fashion division of the Wiener Werkstätte; for several years after, Leo worked for architect Josef Hoffmann. Through the 1950s the couple became known for their work with Pausa AG—a German printer known for innovative, high quality designs.

Knoll Textiles, Gretl Wollner, Leo Wollner, Pausa AG, screenprint

Democratized embroidery

Posted by Lucy Commoner, on Tuesday October 08, 2013

The first pattern books documenting textile design motifs were published in the first quarter of the sixteenth century, and their proliferation into the nineteenth century allowed the wide dissemination of motifs and patterns used in samplers and other types of embroidery. Eventually, by the nineteenth century, embroidery patterns printed directly onto the foundation fabric were available, thereby eliminating the need to hand-draw the design.

Pattern books, embroidery, Berlin woolwork

A perhaps not-so-inviting wallpaper

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Monday October 07, 2013

Zerkalo is a rather surreal image, which challenges the historic associations of wallpaper. As promoted by manufacturers and the media, wallpaper is normally perceived to be warm and inviting, welcoming. Zerkalo keeps the viewer on the edge, as if being watched by the eye on the handbag, which is actually a framed work of art. Miras refers to this as creating "a dialogue between object and subject, a game between the observer and the observed." This imagery draws on mid-19th-century wallpaper designs where trompe l'oeil frames frequently contain printed or painted scenes.

Txell Miras, contemporary, wall coverings, Barcelona

Made in the USA

Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Sunday October 06, 2013

Felt Lace X-Change was designed by Paula Verbeek-Cowart in 2008, and was woven by Oriole Mill, founded by Bethanne Knudson and Stephan Michelson in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 2006. The mill offers custom woven and designed textiles, focusing on quality, rather than quantity and speed, in the production process. They are dedicated to making the finest jacquard and dobby fabrics from natural fibers and ultimately hope to lead a resurgence of small artisanal mills in this once vibrant textile-making area of the country. One of the outcomes of opening the mill has been the formation of Studio Structure by Knudson and Pauline Verbeek-Cowart. Felt Lace X-Change reflects the mission of the mill in its craftsmanship and experimentation with natural fibers and also demonstrates Verbeek-Cowart’s interest in exploring the ways in which wool can be transformed.

Paula Verbeek-Cowart, Oriole Mill, North Carolina, weaving

Communication Man

Posted by Gail Davidson, on Saturday October 05, 2013

Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg were born in Moscow, in 1899 and 1900. They attended the Stroganov School of Applied Art and took classes in military engineering. In the early 1920s they joined with other artists including Alexander Rodchenko in an exhibition of Constructivist sculpture and painting. The Stenbergs' contributions were non objective sculptures of glass, metal, wire, and wood showing lines and planes floating in space. Their earliest graphic design efforts were for the theater which the Soviet state supported as a powerful propaganda tool. They provided inventive and graphic costumes and sets for the Moscow Chamber Theater productions by George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O'Neill and Bertolt Brecht. In one case they included the names of the characters running down the sides of their costumes.

Vladimir Stenberg, Georgii Stenberg, Moscow, Stroganov School of Applied Art, Alexander Rodchenko, posters, theater