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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Seduced by an Object Poster

Posted by Caitlin Condell, on Thursday May 16, 2013

The turn of the twentieth century was an exciting time to be a graphic designer in Berlin.  The city, which had once been the sleepy capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, had rapidly transformed into a booming metropolis, bustling with the energy of industrial progress.  At a moment when everything seemed to be changing, the printed poster offered an exhilarating opportunity to explore the alliance of art and industry, particularly to one precocious young man.

Lucian Bernhard, poster, typewriters, graphic design, Berlin, Germany, Sachplakat, Art Nouveau, Jugenstil

For the Not-so-Minimal Interior

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Wednesday May 15, 2013

The simplistic styling of the poppies frieze shows the effect of the Mission Style on the American interior. Gone are the embossed surfaces, metallic pigments, scrolling medallions, and other excesses of the Victorian period. The floral motifs have been reduced to their most basic elements while still appearing to have some depth. Traditionally a block-printed design would use about 6 colors to shade each given element, while here the entire design is printed in 7.

wallpaper, frieze, border, poppy, ingrain, Mission style

Ballet Brigands

Posted by Rebekah Pollock, on Tuesday May 14, 2013

Two dangerous looking brigands stand at attention, ready to spring into action; their brightly colored cloaks flap in the wind. The energetic tension of these figures, their exotic appeal and wildly patterned textiles are all signature traits of work by the great costume and stage set designer Léon Bakst. The Jewish Russian artist began designing for the legendary Ballets Russes in 1909, at the age of 43. The dance company amazed audiences with its radical choreography, inventive music and extraordinary sets and costumes.

Léon Nikolajewitsch Bakst, Costume design, Ballet Russes, textile design

From Frivolity to Revolt: The Hôtel de Salm’s Role in the French Revolution

Posted by Stacey Leonard, on Monday May 13, 2013

Jean-Guillaume Moitte, Henri Auguste, Thomas Jefferson, Hôtel de Salm, Architecture, satyrs, neo-classicism

A Modernist Mother's Helper

Posted by Cynthia Trope and Annie Hall, on Sunday May 12, 2013

A fascinating confluence of design, technology, utility, and social influences is embodied in the Radio Nurse, part of a wireless microphone and speaker system introduced in 1938 by the Zenith Radio Corporation, conceived as a baby monitor and aid for home or hospital. The system consisted of a sculptural transmitter called the Radio Nurse, designed by artist Isamu Noguchi, and a simple, functional box-like receiver called the Guardian Ear.

Isamu Noguchi, Zenith Radio Corporation, Radio Nurse, baby monitor, Bakelite, modernism

English Flowers in Fashion

Posted by Kimberly Randall, on Saturday May 11, 2013

An embroidered waistcoat from the Greenleaf collection is a fine example of English aristocratic style from the late eighteenth century. Although France dictated the fashionable silhouette for a man’s suit, which consisted of a coat, waistcoat and knee breeches, the English made subtle changes that allowed for more ease and comfort. The lifestyles of French and English aristocrats can explain the differing attitudes toward courtly dress.


A Modern Flat Floral

Posted by Carly Lewis, on Friday May 10, 2013

A limited yet dynamic color palette breathes life into the flat color motifs of this screen-printed woven linen textile by Ruth Hildegard Geyer-Raack.

Ruth Hildegard Geyer-Raack, Josef Hillerbrand, Bauhaus, Deutsche Werkstatten

One window, three curtains

Posted by Susan Brown, on Thursday May 09, 2013

On April 22 of this year, the Economic and Social Council Chamber (ECOSOC) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York was re-inaugurated after a renovation project. The original interior furnishings of the chamber were a gift from the nation of Sweden, and were designed by architect Sven Markelius. The focal point of the room is a 72 by 23 foot window facing the East River. Since the chamber’s opening in 1952, this window has been the site of three spectacular curtains by Swedish designers.

Marianne Richter, Studio Märta Måås-Fjetterström, Sven Markelius, Ann Edholm, The United Nations

The Bet on the Bagatelle

Posted by Sarah R. Donahue, on Wednesday May 08, 2013

Each of the objects depicted in this drawing was designed specifically for the Pavilion de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris, a royal pleasure palace. Though the andirons bear Queen Marie Antoinette’s initials these objects were not made for her, but rather for her brother-in-law, the Comte d’Artois. In 1777, in a one hundred thousand francs bet, the Queen challenged Artois to build a bagattella, meaning trifle or folly, in two months, just in time to receive the court returning to Paris from their summer sojourn at Fontainbleau.

Andiron, Sconce, bronze, Bagatelle, paris, drawing, Jean Démosthène Dugourc, François-Joseph Belanger

Marion Dorn's Zodiac

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday May 07, 2013

Zodiac by Marion Dorn (American, 1899-1964) is an early screen-printed wallpaper produced by the American firm Bassett & Vollum. Containing the 12 signs of the zodiac with six printed in brilliant colors and six overprinted in white outline, Zodiac is a large-scale design printed on a deep green, almost black ground. The bold coloring and strong lines are characteristic of Dorn’s work. Each zodiac sign is rendered in a simplistic manner and printed in a solid block of color, with only the most essential elements delineated.

Marion Dorn, zodiac, astrology, screen-print