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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The Best Possible View

Posted by Gail S. Davidson and Floramae McCarron-Cates, on Thursday April 25, 2013

Thomas Moran was one of the artists who in the mid-nineteenth century produced landscape images of the West that contributed to and reinforced the development of an American identity.   These views, however, were frequently constructed, edited, or manipulated to reinforce a sense of national pride and feeling of unity during and immediately following the Civil War.  This ethereal view of the famous site of Half Dome in Yosemite was based on Moran’s many sketches of the scene, drawings and photographs by other artists, as well as his recollections of his many visits ther

Thomas Moran, landscape, Thomas Cole, Yosemite, mountains, drawing, watercolor, etching

Fractions

Posted by Ellen Lupton, on Wednesday April 24, 2013

How does a critic design textiles? With a typewriter, of course! Bernard Rudofsky was one of design’s great polymath thinkers. The exhibitions he organized in mid-century New York provoked designers to look at the world in new ways. Trained as an architect in his native Moravia (present day Austria), he was not licensed to practice architecture in the United States. He went on to have an enormously influential career as a curator, writer, critic, exhibition designer, and even fashion designer.

Bernard Rudofsky, New York, Schiffer Prints, typewriters, GRiD

Wallpapering your Floor

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday April 23, 2013

This parquet border design came into the collection with a group of wallpapers all produced during the late 19th century. And if memory serves me correctly, this group of papers was found in San Francisco which means they survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906 which devastated the city. This was a diverse group of papers ranging from high-end block printed designs to more inexpensive mass-produced machine-printed designs. This roll of paper belonged to the latter group. It was printed in very few colors on very thin paper with a wood pulp composition.

Parquet, border, wallpaper, woodgrain

Fancy French Furniture

Posted by Stephen H. Van Dyk, on Monday April 22, 2013

Le Garde-meuble, ancien et moderne (Furniture repository, ancient and modern), was a periodical consisting entirely of illustrations depicting French furniture, interiors, and window treatments.  It was published in Paris from 1839 to around 1935 originally under the direction of furniture designer Désir&eacut

Désiré Guilmard, Le Garde Meuble, Furniture -France, Interiors -France, Drapery-France, Smithsonian Libraries
Garde-Meuble

Out With the Old, In With the “Nowy”

Posted by Amanda Kesner, on Sunday April 21, 2013

What makes this theater new? The theater the text refers to depicts a historical landmark that represented a shift between the two World Wars and Poland’s sole source of entertainment at the time. The antithesis of the old Polski Theater, calling it the New Theater suggested a less serious, light hearted genre. The founder of New Theatre was Mieczysław Rutkowski. Throughout a twenty year time span, many directors held positions there and various dramas and concerts were performed. By the 1980’s the theater became known for its political involvement, a prime example of this being the performance staged in 1980 entitled "The Defendant:  June 1956". This political performance references the The Poznań 1956 protests, also known as Poznań 1956 uprising. The working class were protesting against communist dictatorial government and better working conditions. The protest resulted in many injuries to the Polish people and a period of political persecution.

Poznań 1956 protests, Nowy Teatr, film, performance, Warsaw, offset lithography

Diplomatic Swans

Posted by Rebekah Pollock, on Saturday April 20, 2013

This charger belonged to the Meissen Swan Service, one of the largest and most magnificent porcelain dinner services ever created. Produced at the Dresden manufactory between the years of 1737 and 1743, the service comprised of over 2,000 unique pieces; its splendor is illustrative of both the artistic genius of the factory’s master modeler, Johann Joachim Kändler, as well as the ambitions of its director, Heinrich Count von Brühl, for whom the service was commissioned.

Swan, Porcelain, Bruhl, Meissen, rococo, diplomacy

A Fan with a Story

Posted by Lucy Commoner, on Friday April 19, 2013

Of the 300 folding fans in the Cooper-Hewitt, Nation Design Museum’s collection, very few have as fascinating a provenance as this beautiful fan designed by the artist Simon Lissim (1900-1981).  Lissim was a prolific painter, stage designer, illustrator, metalwork designer, ceramicist, and textile designer whose works are found in the collections of over 70 museums worldwide.  In addition to this folding fan, the Cooper-Hewitt collection includes drawings, porcelain, silverware, and buttons designed by Lissim.

Simon Lissim, Sergei Diaghilev, Léon Bakst, fans, Russia

A Colorful Identity

Posted by Maxwell Tielman, on Thursday April 18, 2013

From the New York Subway system to American Airlines, Massimo Vignelli is responsible for some of the most iconic and enduring graphic identities of the twentieth century. Born in Milan in 1931, Vignelli displayed an interest and aptitude in design at a relatively early age. At sixteen, he began working as a draftsman at Castiglioni Architects in Milan.

Massimo Vignelli, graphic design, Knoll, furniture, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, Harry Bertoia, Helvetica, Color, poster

Wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve and jacket front.

Posted by Sarah D. Coffin, on Wednesday April 17, 2013

A set of eighteen remarkable buttons each feature a small painting of groups of people of mixed races in a British West Indies island, then called Dominica, now Haiti and Santo Domingo. The artist, subjects and traditional history all collide to make the buttons an extraordinary combination of artistic significance, social history, and inventive design use.

buttons, Toussaint L'Ouverture, Haiti, Brunias, West Indies, jacket, scenes, landscapes, costume, textiles, hats

From Dumpster to Gallery, a Wallpapers Rise to Fame

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Tuesday April 16, 2013

The provenance of this piece is kind of a fun rags to riches story. This wallpaper is a very mass-produced example of mid-century design, containing a dense pattern of organic, stylized foliage forms with boomerang overlays, quite typical for the 1950s. The paper was donated to the Museum by a woman who was interning in the Wallcoverings Department, who happened to mention that her husband had been walking down the street and found this cool wallpaper in the garbage. When the intern was telling the story, the curator was intrigued and asked if she could see it.

wallpaper, mid-century, 1950s, boomerang, floral

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