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 Cabinet of Surprises

Posted by Sarah D. Coffin, on Monday September 16, 2013

This cabinet, that looks more like a dining room side cabinet than a writing cabinet at first glance, caught my eye when I first saw it upon arriving at Cooper-Hewitt as a curator. I considered the Arts and Crafts movement an area in which I had some knowledge, so I was fascinated that I had to try to guess who designed this piece and where. When I looked at it from the outside, I thought it might be British, thought about Belgium, but felt I should look for comparable objects--which I did but without much luck.

cabinet, writing cabinet, May Sarton, Mabel Sarton, Wiener Werkstätte, Margaret Macdonald, Glasgow, vienna, inlay, mother-of-pearl

The Scent of Vinegar

Posted by Kira Eng-Wilmot, on Sunday September 15, 2013

While the primary goal of a conservator continues to be the documentation and preservation or retardation of deterioration, conservation practices and materials have evolved over the years. For example, cellulose acetate was used to store museum collections in the 1940s and 1950s.

conservation, collections storage, textile, cellulose acetate
Textile fragment. Italy, 14th century.

Happy Birthday Ettore

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Saturday September 14, 2013

Arabia Felix was quite unique for the time in which it was created as it is nearly 10 feet in length and lacks a vertical repeat. The design contains cloud-like shapes totally void of color against a printed background that shades from a darker spotted blue at the top to white at the bottom. The density of the cloud shapes is greatest where the background is darkest, becoming less dense as the background color decreases, disappearing totally where the background ceases to have color towards the bottom of the wallpaper.

wallpaper, Memphis, Ettore Sottsass

Tools for Easier Living

Posted by Rebecca Gross, on Friday September 13, 2013

For craftsman and industrial designer Russel Wright (1904-1976), flatware was not just a tool for the tabletop. It was a tool for easier living. From the late 1920s through to the 1960s, Wright introduced Americans to modern, practical, and easy-to-care-for homewares and furnishings suited to a more informal and sociable way of life.

Russel Wright, flatware, design, modern design, table ware, drawing, stamps, Highlight/Pinch


Posted by Ellen Lupton, on Thursday September 12, 2013

When do graphic design and textile design merge and overlap? The great mid-century designer Alexander Girard is best known for his work as founding director of the Herman Miller Textile Division, a post he held from 1952 through 1973. There, working alongside such design legends as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, he created a vast range of textiles that complemented and completed the era’s groundbreaking furnishings. Although nubby textures and neutral stripes abound in Girard’s textile oeuvre, his most memorable designs are distinctly graphic in character.

alphabet, graphic design, textile design, Alexander Hayden Girard, Herman Miller Inc.

A Heart in the Right Place

Posted by Tiffany Lambert, on Wednesday September 11, 2013

It is difficult to imagine that something as ubiquitous as the I Love New York logo was designed completely for free. But that is exactly what graphic designer Milton Glaser did in 1976 when he created his first simple sketch with red crayon on the back of an envelope for the New York Chamber of Commerce. The final logo, set in a rounded slab serif font aptly named American Typewriter, would ultimately become one of the most internationally recognizable icons.

Milton Glaser, poster, graphic design, New York, National Design Award, American Typewriter, logo

A Sewing Machine in Miniature

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Tuesday September 10, 2013

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

Clean and Beautiful: Sanitary Wallpapers

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Monday September 09, 2013

The Oritani frieze is one of a number of wallpapers in the Cooper-Hewitt collection that contain a printed inscription in the selvedge that reads: "Antiseptic Pat'd 8-9-04". This was a patent filed by the William Campbell Wall Paper Company in 1904 that was said to prevent the absorption of germs into the wallpaper’s pigment. This patent notification appeared mostly on children’s wallpapers but the process was also used on papers for more general use.

wallpaper, border, frieze, sanitary, washable, Egli, Campbell, Oritani

Fans of Art Nouveau

Posted by Lucy Commoner, on Sunday September 08, 2013

This beautiful folding fan is one of a pair of similar fans in the Art Nouveau style in the collection of Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.  The silk net leaves of both fans are decorated with cotton needle and bobbin lace embellished with shiny steel spangles.  The sticks are identical in both fans and are made of tortoiseshell embedded with steel spangles.  The guard sticks have a wavy, serpentine form and there is a glass stone at both rivets.  Both fans depict elegant floral motifs, irises in one and thistles in the other that appear to be growing out of the fou

fans, France, Art Nouveau, Les Modes, Develleroy

A Whole Lot of Pattern Going On

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Saturday September 07, 2013

Historically, wallpapers were rarely designed to be used alone, and wallpapers would always have been paired with at least one border. Along with the multiple patterns on the wall it was also fashionable to paper ceilings from about 1850 up into the 1950s. The use of a single wallpaper in a room, or just papering one wall, is a fairly recent notion.

wallpaper, companion, floral, stripe, pattern, Art Deco, French