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 Lure of the Peacock: Iridescence and Immortality

Posted by Sarah Coffin, on Monday February 18, 2013

Objects have many stories but this vase connects different cultures and different periods in more ways than most.  When it appeared in Rococo: The Continuing Curve 1730-2008 at CHNDM, the Peacock Vase represented with its organic, sinuous forms the re-emergence of a curvilinear aesthetic in the Art Nouveau era of the Rococo style created in the 18th century.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, Tiffany glass, iridescence, peacock, Loetz, India, Iran, aesthetic, William de Morgan

Studied Beauty: Textile Panel by Ethel Stein

Posted by Lucy Commoner, on Sunday February 17, 2013

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is fortunate to have in its collection three textiles designed and woven by Ethel Stein, a preeminent twentieth and twenty-first century American artist and weaver.  Stein’s early design influences include studying in the 1940s with the Bauhaus artist and designer, Josef Albers (1888-1976) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Albers .

Ethel Stein, ikat, damask, Josef Albers, Bauhaus, weaver

1965/66 Season Poster for Municipal Theater, Basel, with Weekly Program

Posted by Niko Arranz, on Saturday February 16, 2013

A column, cello, cowboy-looking boot and ballet’s foot represent the drama of the Municipal Theater in Basel, Switzerland, at the time of this event. The poster, made by a freelance designer named Armin Hofmann, was created for the famous theater in Basel for their latest performance. Hofmann believed that black and white photography gives a better visual of colors than colored photography. The black and white photo was meant to bring emotion, life and imagination of colors to the average person.

poster, theater, Basil, boot, cello, ballet, column

Back in the USSR

Posted by Elizabeth Broman, on Friday February 15, 2013

This extremely rare trade catalog from 1940, in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library, represents the output of 10 state-owned ceramics factories from all over the Ukraine in small towns and villages after industry was nationalized in 1918.

Ukraine, ceramics, tableware, prpoganda, Smithsonian Libraries, political symbols, folk art, embroidery, Soviet Union, National Design Library
Vases with portraits of Lenin and other Communist leaders


Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Thursday February 14, 2013

Color was a central element in all of Verner Panton’s designs for interiors and furniture, and in particular, textiles, which became his most important vehicle for color in the futurist environments for which he is best known.  Born in Denmark, Panton lived and worked most of his life in Basel, Switzerland, where by the mid-1950s he was an internationally acclaimed interior architect and designer.  He studied at the Technical College from 1944-47 followed by architecture studies at the Royal Academy of Art in Copenhage

New Material, New Form

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Wednesday February 13, 2013

This innovative stacking chair is arguably Danish designer Verner Panton’s best known work. While not the first cantilevered chair—Dutch designer Gerrit Rietveld’s 1934 wooden Zig-Zag chair is an earlier example—the Panton chair was the first cantilevered chair made from a single piece of injection-molded plastic. Its fluid organic shape is made to fit the human form.

Verner Panton, Herman Miller, chair, plastic, Denmark, furniture, Pop Culture

Exploring the Grand Canyon

Posted by Gail S. Davidson, on Tuesday February 12, 2013

Thomas Moran painted this beautiful watercolor of the Grand Canyon on a 1901 trip that was organized and paid for by the Santa Fe Railroad.   The Railroad treated Moran and other artists to a three-week excursion at the Canyon, together with a guide to point out the most picturesque views.  The Railroad’s aim was to get artists to paint the sites which would encourage tourists to visit the Canyon.  It is a revealing example of artists col

Thomas Moran, America, landscape, tourism, Grand Canyon, National Parks, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Santa Fe Railroad

Fascinated with French Poodles

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Monday February 11, 2013

One can’t go through the mid-century without being shown some poodles. French poodles appeared on numerous wallpapers during the 1950s. This is Gigi, printed on Super Sanitas. As you can see, Gigi is getting coiffed for a night out in Paris. The design contains 4 different scenes, showing Gigi getting coiffed and pedicured, having her hair set, and promenading with her beau in front of Club Chien. The color is predominantly pink, with accents of metallic silver and gold. Very 1950s!

wallpaper, poodle, dog, fifties, Sanitas

The Dragon's Allure

Posted by Laurel McEuen, on Sunday February 10, 2013

According to the lunisolar Chinese calendar, the Year of the Dragon has come to a close and we are beginning the Year of the Snake. In honor of the Chinese New Year I present to you a very small Chinese robe from the collection of the Textiles Department. This late 18th century robe is made of silk, enhanced by metallic threads and boasts a pattern comprised primarily of dragons punctuated by blue and green clouds, flaming pearls, bats and other auspicious symbols.

Chinese New Year, dragon, dragon robe, Dries van Noten

Not So Innocent Foliage Pattern

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Saturday February 09, 2013

Efeu [Ivy] appears to be a photographic rendering of a lush growth of ivy consuming a wall. This rendering is more dense than usual but the design of ivy growing up a wall has been a popular theme in wallpaper for many years. Ivy patterns are rather casual, relaxing, non-offensive, a design that is rarely questioned. This design, however, does have a darker side. As with many of Demand’s works, this is actually a reconstruction of his own creation, which was then photographed and manipulated to create a repeating pattern.

wallpaper, foliage, ivy