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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Citizen Architect

Posted by Cynthia E. Smith, on Sunday December 23, 2012

“All architects expect and hope that their work will act as a servant in some sense for humanity–to make a better world. This is a search we should always be undertaking.” —Samuel Mockbee

Samuel Mockbee, D.K. Ruth, Rural Studio, Alabama, Mississippi, Auburn University, Architecture, residential, built environments, low-cost housing, cameras, film, recycled wood, architectural drawings
Butterfly House: Concept Sketches for Rural Studio

Echoes of Techno

Posted by Pamela Lawton, on Saturday December 22, 2012

In Niklaus Troxler’s abstraction, green and yellow bands pulsate on black. Rectangular slivers of shapes draw the viewer across and down. Diagonal paths form along the way. Reinforced by its title, Echoes of Techno, the image emits rhythm and sound, progressing over time.

Niklaus Troxler, jazz, posters, New York City, Jazz Willisau, Switzerland, techno, graphic design
Echoes of Techno by Niklaus Troxler


Posted by Maxwell Tielman, on Friday December 21, 2012

“Work? It’s just serious play,” Saul Bass remarked in a 1993 interview. Indeed, Saul Bass’s marvelous career, which spanned from the 1930s until his death in 1996, is defined by his trademark wit, humor, and playfulness. Whether it was in movie posters, billboards, brand identities, or packaging design, Bass always injected his work with a delightful energy and intelligence, quite remarkable given the distilled simplicity of his work.

Saul Bass, poster, graphic design, Arts Students League, Bauhaus, Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, New York City, film, Judaism
Exodus by Saul Bass

Andean woman’s mantle

Posted by Elena Phipps, on Thursday December 20, 2012

This beautiful cloth is a woman’s shoulder mantle, called a lliclla in the Quechua language of the Inca Empire, and was made during the colonial period of Peru. A perfect blend of the cross-cultural elements of the 16th- and 17th-century era of global trade, the Chinese silk and Spanish silver threads are woven with Inca techniques and design motifs.

textiles, woven, weaving, thread, Peru, Inca, Andes
Peruvian mantle 16th–17th century

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