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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Wall Treatments with Impact

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Wednesday December 19, 2012

These two designs were among the samples removed from a wallpaper sample book produced by the Grantil Company in 1928. While each of these patterns is boldly styled and colored in itself, they were designed to be used in tandem. A number of samples contained in this book had applied lithographed illustrations showing the manufacturer’s suggestions for using these papers to best effect, which often included the combination of multiple papers on a single wall.

Art Deco, wallpaper, pink, patterns
Sidewall produced by J. Grantil Company

A Model of Speed and Performance

Posted by Cynthia Trope, on Tuesday December 18, 2012

Models and prototypes are an important part of Cooper-Hewitt’s collection. They represent a step in the design process and a way of showing the story of an object from concept to final product.

Walter Dorwin Teague, Walter Dorwin Teague Jr., Marmon Motor Car Company, Boucher, Marmon Sixteen, car, Jazz Age, Streamline, Great Depression
Model of the Marmon Sixteen sedan

Bound to be Beautiful

Posted by Adrienne Meyer, on Monday December 17, 2012

One of the treasures of our collection, Wine Women and Song, has a fascinating history. This elaborately bound first edition of John Addington Symond’s 1884 English translation of 13th-century medieval drinking songs was produced in England in 1907 by bookbinders Sangorski & Sutcliffe, renowned for their intricate bindings ornamented with gilt work and precious stones.

rare books, book bindings, guilding, tooled leather, Arts & Crafts, wine, grapes, grape leaves, luxury, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, medieval songs, National Design Library
Detail of binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe of London, ca. 1907

Alvin Lustig’s Incantation

Posted by Ellen Lupton, on Sunday December 16, 2012

Although his career was tragically short, Alvin Lustig was among America’s most influential mid-century graphic designers. Textiles like Incantation (1947) reflect a rich multidisciplinary practice that encompassed furniture, graphics, architecture, and animation. After studying design and printing at Los Angeles Junior College, Lustig started creating geometric patterns in the medium of letterpress in the early 1930s.

Alvin Lustig, Laverne Originals, Paul Klee, Joan Miro, Elaine Lustig Cohen, textiles
Incantation by Alvin Lustig

Flute song in silver

Posted by Sarah Coffin, on Saturday December 15, 2012

This elegant piece of silver is both modern and ancient. Not only does it connect to designs by Hoffmann in other media, such the glass vase with fluted base he designed for Lobmeyr and a fluted sidewall paper created by his follower Dagobert Peche, but it also relates to the classic designs of ancient Greece and Rome. Look at the flutes!

silver, fluting, Paul Revere, neoclassicism, teapots, bowl, josef hoffmann, Wiener Werkstätte

Sacred to Washington

Posted by Gregory Herringshaw, on Friday December 14, 2012

Sacred to Washington is one of the earliest American wallpapers in the collection. This is a woodblock print on joined sheets of handmade paper. While it has faded to a uniform shade of gray, the design was originally printed in grisaille, or shades of gray, on a blue ground, as can be seen in abraded areas at the bottom of the design.

wallpaper, memorial, trophies, Liberty, Justice, eagle, George Washington
Sacred to Washington, produced by Ebenezer Clough

Getting There is Half the Fun

Posted by Matthew J. Kennedy, on Thursday December 13, 2012

Or, perhaps, not actually a proportional half-and-half. Edward McKnight Kauffer’s series of posters for American Airlines focuses on the destination (such as Chicago or Niagara Falls) rather than the air travel itself. From this perspective, being there is more than half the fun.

advertising, American Airlines, Edward McKnight Kauffer, Cubism, abstraction, graphic design, poster
American Airlines: To New York by Edward McKnight Kauffer

Scena Per Angolo, or Advance Through Indirection

Posted by Pamela Lawton, on Wednesday December 12, 2012

My love of Italian architecture came about while I was a student in Urbino and then Florence. A displaced New Yorker, I succumbed to the daily euphoria induced by my walk from my apartment to the Scuola Lorenzo de Medici. Every wall, doorway and piazza vied for my attention with outdoor statuary, Della Robbia roundels, frescoes and inlays. 

Italy, theater, Bibiena, perspective, drawings, baroque, Renaissance
Theater Design: A Town Square. Designed by Francesco Galli Bibiena

Deconstructing a Dutch Treat

Posted by Lucy Commoner, on Tuesday December 11, 2012

This rare, early 18th-century Chinese fan for the Dutch market is a wonderful example of the many interconnections through time that can be extracted from an object around its design, technical details, and state of preservation. 

fan, ivory, Parafilm M, conservation
early 18th Chinese fan for the Dutch market

Finding animals in furniture

Posted by Sarah D. Coffin, on Monday December 10, 2012

I love to try to “read” an object. Looking at the Elephant Trunk Table (Elefantenruesseltisch in German), it is easy to see why it was so named. What is less clear is why this design came into being. The table’s eight legs, which might suggest an octopus, look like elephant trunks. They also suggest the S-shaped cabriole legs found on tables and chairs starting in the first half of the 18th century, such as in this chair, also part of the Museum's collection:

elephant trunk, table, furniture
Elephant Trunk Table by Adolf Loos