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 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

Petticoats in the Navy

Posted by Rebecca Gross, on Friday September 06, 2013

When 20-year old Bernice Smith Tongate walked into a California Navy recruiting office in 1917, and proclaimed “Gee, I wish I were a man, I’d join the Navy!,” I’m sure she was blissfully unaware of the impact she was about to have on the American Navy and women’s equality.

Howard Chandler Christy, United States Navy, graphic design, poster, Bernice Smith Tongate, national pride

Weaving the Old With the New

Posted by Tyrel Holston, on Thursday September 05, 2013

Weaver, refugee, designer, poet, teacher, entrepreneur, immigrant, innovator:  Trude Guermonprez.  Along with contemporaries Anni Albers, Dorothy Liebes and Marianne Strengell, Guermonprez was in the vanguard of the American modernist weaving movement, producing both functional and decorative textiles, and experimenting with industrial synthetic fibers. Co-founder of the Pond Farm Workshops, Guermonprez is most remembered for her novel three-dimensional fiber “space hangings” and poetic wall tapestries.

Trude Guermonprez, Pond Farm Workshops, synagogue, Elsesser, ark curtains, Claude Stoller

A Way With Wood

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Wednesday September 04, 2013

When I first saw this console by the Japanese-American master woodworker and furniture maker, George Nakashima, I was, and still am, struck by the wonderful twelve-foot long expanse of wood that is the console top. It seems to be a celebration of the material, of the tree it came from—a warm-toned surface with a silky, nuanced grain and soft contoured edges, a surface that invites you to look, study, touch and run your hand along to feel it, even to tap it, hear it.

George Nakashima, wood, walnut, pandana, furniture

Industrial Espionage

Posted by Susan Brown, on Tuesday September 03, 2013

Turkey red refers to a brilliant scarlet dye for cotton, or more accurately, a process for dyeing cotton red. As suggested by the variety of names used --Turkey red, Adrianople red, rouge des Indes—the technique was practiced throughout the eastern Mediterranean, but was completely unknown in Europe before the eighteenth century. In order to discover the secret process, textile firms in England and France began sending industrial spies to Turkey and Greece.

dyeing, Turkey red, sample books, industrial espionage

A Richly Fabled Romance

Posted by Erin Gillis, on Monday September 02, 2013

The marriage between art and music has always been a richly fabled romance.  In the modern era, graphic designers have had a particular knack for fusing these two mediums by imbibing their personal passion for music into their work.  Consider for instance Reid Miles typographic album covers for the jazz label Blue Note in the 1950s or Wes Wilson’s psychedelic concert posters for Bill Graham presents in the 1960s. Each designer’s individual taste helped signify the way we see music.

Niklaus Troxler, graphic design, jazz, music, poster, Wes Wilson, Reid Miles, Ellery Eskelin Trio, circles, dots

An Ultra Modern Luxury Studio

Posted by Rebecca Gross, on Sunday September 01, 2013

For many of us residing in New York City, we quickly become accustomed to living in small apartments. Yet, through design, decoration, and furnishings we do our best to make our sometimes-cramped quarters as practical, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing as possible. In the 1930s, American-born designer Donald Deskey, inspired and influenced by European design of the period, created apartment interiors that were functional, sophisticated, and modern.

Donald Deskey, New York City, apartment, streamlining, interior design, Interior decoration, micro-unit, drawing