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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Taking cues from portable tunes?

Posted by Andrea Lipps, on Tuesday July 23, 2013

While personal stereo systems today often consist of nothing more than a digital audio player and small speakers, earlier forms of music technology necessitated more substantial stereo systems. General Electric Company’s SC 7300 stereo system, dated to 1973, accommodates both records and 8-track cartridge tapes in an elegant, white enamel pedestal base. The system is intended for residential use, but there is an implied portability in its design, which was a growing trend in music listening during the period.

General Electric, stereo, music, 8-track player, record turntable

Hand painted wallpaper ornaments

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Monday July 22, 2013

This framed landscape paper dates to the mid-19th Century. The production of this design involves a number of different techniques. The background is combed or dragged in a wood grain pattern resembling oak; the landscape scene is hand painted, and the oval picture frame is woodblock-printed. Papers with a printed frieze, or ornament, such as this, that would repeat horizontally but not vertically were usually printed in eight to twelve foot lengths, which allowed some flexibility to accommodate different ceiling heights.

wallpaper, landscape, deer, woodblock, handpainted, wood grain

The Chairs They Are A-Changing

Posted by Rachel Brill, on Sunday July 21, 2013

Introduced by Finnish furniture manufacturer Asko Oy in 1968, Eero Aarnio's "Pastilli" rocking chair—sometimes called the “Gyro” or "Rock 'N' Roll" chair—epitomizes the turbulent, unconventional era of the late Sixties.

chair, Eero Aarnio, Asko Oy, polyester, 1960s

Wallpapers in Tie-dye

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Saturday July 20, 2013

Tie-dye wallpaper shows the influence of pop culture on the decorative arts. Designed and produced by Barbara White in 1958, this handmade paper was produced using only rice paper and Higgins inks. These designs were created by manipulating the ink with added moisture. The paper was placed on a glass surface, then moistened. The colors were applied with a brush, then the paper was strategically folded over onto itself, then squeezed to spread and blend the colors. It was then unfolded and left to dry. These were also created in matched sets of wallpapers and borders.

wallpaper, tie-dye, Higgins ink, molded paper

ToFU and Honey

Posted by Andrea Lipps, on Thursday July 18, 2013

Tokujin Yoshioka’s ToFU lamp is magical. The spare form—a square cut delicately from clear methacrylate resin—conducts light only around its edges, stemming from a single halogen bulb. It is as though light itself is harnessed in the design, caught within and released by the material in a minimal, sensual gesture.

Tokujin Yoshioka, lighting design, material, PMMA, seating

From Romantic to Raw: Toile Transformed

Posted by Megan Elevado, on Wednesday July 17, 2013

When paging through interior design magazines, classic toiles of red or blue on white are used to create a relaxed, yet refined country house look. A room decorated using toile, for a wallpapered accent wall or for a carefully upholstered suite of sofa and chairs, often projects a lady-like atmosphere and is intentionally nostalgic for a time past.

Timorous Beasties, toile, Alistair MacAuley, Paul Simmons, London

Bucolic Musings

Posted by Rachel Brill, on Tuesday July 16, 2013

Winslow Homer’s 1873 oil painting titled, Sunlight and Shadow—In the Hammock, depicts an idyllic scene of tranquil bourgeois leisure in a pastoral setting.  The scene portrays a young middle-to-upper class woman, indicated by her well-maintained white dress and refined shoes, reading peacefully in a hammock. Stretching from one end of the canvas to the other, the woven hammock and its sitter appear to be floating amongst the varied green leaves and black branches.

Winslow Homer, sunlight, painting, leisure

An emblem of Dutch diversity

Posted by Erin Gillis, on Monday July 15, 2013

With its overlapping pattern of abstracted florals and its animated orange circular motif, this exhibition poster designed by artist Johan Thorn Prikker (b.1868-1932) is a true icon of the Nieuwe Kunst (Art Nouveau) style in Holland.  Created for an exhibition of Dutch art at the Kaiser-Wilhelm museum in Krefeld, Germany, Thorn Prikker employed several signifiers of Dutch nationalism to advertise the event, most notably the orange (for the House of Orange-Nassau), the tulip, and Indonesian batik.

Johan Thorn Prikker, textile design, graphic design, poster, batik, Dutch stained glass, Art Nouveau

French Revolution Wallpapers

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Sunday July 14, 2013

This is an example of wallpaper used as propaganda. This is a paper produced during the French Revolution, woodblock-printed ca. 1792. The citizens of France felt that the Revolution could not be won just by fighting in political circles or on the battlefield. They felt it needed to be reinforced on the domestic front as well and had to occur in the ordinary citizen’s everyday life. It was believed that symbols had a powerful effect on the spirit and could strengthen the validity of the new principles.

wallpaper, French revolution, liberty cap, tri-color ribbon

Celebrating the Commercial Building

Posted by Willa Granger, on Saturday July 13, 2013

Ely Jacques Kahn (1884-1972), a commercial architect active throughout the 1920s and 30s, worked to define the New York aesthetic through his Art Deco skyscrapers. “The industrial structure,” he once commented, “sails merrily into experiment.” Kahn’s observation exemplified the architect’s dual pragmatism and creativity, his ability to meld a practical understanding of the architectural program with innovative form and decoration.

Ely Jacques Kahn, Hugh Ferriss, Architecture, skyscraper, drawing

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