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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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

Experimental Structures

Posted by Cynthia Smith, on Friday July 12, 2013

I read Buckminster Fuller’s “Critical Path” early in my studies and was always struck by how his formative education and life circumstances informed his work over the years.  Failure confronted Fuller after he left the Navy, heading him on his “lifelong experiment” with an aim of finding out “what, if anything,” one individual could do “on behalf of all humanity.” 

R. Buckmister Fuller, Architecture, Architectural drawing, Dymaxion House

Celebrating Comfort & Personal Style

Posted by Laurel McEuen, on Thursday July 11, 2013

Upon hearing the words modern, modernism, or modernist design, what are your first thoughts? “Form follows function,” universal, structured, machines, red, yellow, blue, black, white, tubular steel, leather, Cubism, geometry, straight lines, circles, squares, triangles? What about knotted carpeting, irregular shapes and patterns, whimsy, a denial of the machine aesthetic, comfortable, cozy, eclectic, personal, humanistic, lilac, burnt orange, green, tan? How about a little of each?

Joseph Frank, modernism, Functionalism

Less Ziggy, More Stardust

Posted by Caitlin Condell, on Wednesday July 10, 2013

There are many ways to celebrate an anniversary.  To commemorate a decade of working together as the design duo Non-Format, Kjell Ekhorn and Jon Forss did not opt for the traditional gifting of tin, pewter, or aluminum.  Instead, they pooled their creative energies towards a personal project that drew upon their shared love of David Bowie. 

Non-Format, poster, graphic design, David Bowie, Brian Eno, axis thinking, music

River Glimmered

Posted by Pamela Lawton, on Tuesday July 09, 2013

“Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river… When Siddhartha awoke, the pale river shimmered past the door…The broad sheet of water glimmered pink in the light of the morning…’Yes’, said the ferryman, ‘it is a very beautiful river…I have often listened to it, gazed at it... One can learn much from a river’.”[1]

Alvin Lustig, Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, graphic design, books, book covers

Effect Before Everything

Posted by Maleyne Syracuse, on Monday July 08, 2013

The design industry in the US flourished in the decade following World War II.  In textiles, small designer-led entrepreneurial firms drove the creative awakening, with an emphasis on innovative printed textiles that took their cues from modern art and architecture. Large established textile producers remained on the sidelines, wedded to the traditional brocades and satins favored by more conservative interior designers.

Philip Johnson, Arundell Clarke, blueprints

Birdcage In The Form Of A Church

Posted by Joanna Burgess, on Sunday July 07, 2013

Playwright Jacques Deval once wrote, “God loved the birds and made trees. Man loved the birds and made cages.” I am much more content watching birds soaring and swooping. Still I can’t help but admire this finely designed piece of art. When I first saw this birdcage in the form of a church the word that came to mind was “amazing.” 

Birdcage, Church, Gothic style, Flushing, New York

A CFL bulb you want to show off

Posted by Andrea Lipps, on Saturday July 06, 2013

The Plumen 001, released to the market in 2010, is a rethinking of what the CFL can be.

Plumen, Hulger, Samuel Wilkinson, lightbulb, lighting design, CFL, Energy efficiency

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