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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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

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

One for the Money

Posted by Laura Camerlengo, on Monday April 15, 2013

Has Tax Day left you pinching your pennies? Then you may appreciate the secure storage offered by miser’s purses. These oblong purses often have small center slit openings with sliding rings to secure coins in the purses’ ends (though sometimes clasps are used). Although these purses have existed in various forms since the seventeenth-century, they developed the shape seen here in the early nineteenth century.

knitting, costume, costume accessories, netting, crochet, purses, literature, needlework

Miniature Fantasy

Posted by Rebekah Pollock, on Sunday April 14, 2013

Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1695 –1750) is recognized as a creative genius behind the French Rococo style. He first published his influential Livre d'Ornements (Book of Ornaments) in 1734 and then again in 1748. These small booklets were circulated among countless craftsmen and artisans who applied Meissonier’s designs to decorative artwork such as ceramics, metalwork, marquetry, and textiles. 

Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, ornament, lighting, engraving, rococo

Bluette by Atelier Martine

Posted by Kimberly Randall, on Saturday April 13, 2013

Bluette is a textile by an unknown designer made in the design school Atelier Martine. The school was founded by Paul Poiret (1879 – 1944), a celebrated Parisian couturier known for exotic fashions inspired by the Middle East and Asia. Named for his daughter, Atelier Martine embraced the notion of an unstudied, instinctive creativity. Poiret opened Atelier Martine in 1912 following a European tour where he was greatly impressed by the printed textiles of the Wiener Werkstätte of Vienna.

textile, Atelier Martine, Paul Poiret, Wiener Werkstätte, Louis Rorimer, flowers