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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A perhaps not-so-inviting wallpaper

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Monday October 07, 2013

Zerkalo is a rather surreal image, which challenges the historic associations of wallpaper. As promoted by manufacturers and the media, wallpaper is normally perceived to be warm and inviting, welcoming. Zerkalo keeps the viewer on the edge, as if being watched by the eye on the handbag, which is actually a framed work of art. Miras refers to this as creating "a dialogue between object and subject, a game between the observer and the observed." This imagery draws on mid-19th-century wallpaper designs where trompe l'oeil frames frequently contain printed or painted scenes.

Txell Miras, contemporary, wall coverings, Barcelona

Made in the USA

Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Sunday October 06, 2013

Felt Lace X-Change was designed by Paula Verbeek-Cowart in 2008, and was woven by Oriole Mill, founded by Bethanne Knudson and Stephan Michelson in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 2006. The mill offers custom woven and designed textiles, focusing on quality, rather than quantity and speed, in the production process. They are dedicated to making the finest jacquard and dobby fabrics from natural fibers and ultimately hope to lead a resurgence of small artisanal mills in this once vibrant textile-making area of the country. One of the outcomes of opening the mill has been the formation of Studio Structure by Knudson and Pauline Verbeek-Cowart. Felt Lace X-Change reflects the mission of the mill in its craftsmanship and experimentation with natural fibers and also demonstrates Verbeek-Cowart’s interest in exploring the ways in which wool can be transformed.

Paula Verbeek-Cowart, Oriole Mill, North Carolina, weaving

Communication Man

Posted by Gail Davidson, on Saturday October 05, 2013

Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg were born in Moscow, in 1899 and 1900. They attended the Stroganov School of Applied Art and took classes in military engineering. In the early 1920s they joined with other artists including Alexander Rodchenko in an exhibition of Constructivist sculpture and painting. The Stenbergs' contributions were non objective sculptures of glass, metal, wire, and wood showing lines and planes floating in space. Their earliest graphic design efforts were for the theater which the Soviet state supported as a powerful propaganda tool. They provided inventive and graphic costumes and sets for the Moscow Chamber Theater productions by George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O'Neill and Bertolt Brecht. In one case they included the names of the characters running down the sides of their costumes.

Vladimir Stenberg, Georgii Stenberg, Moscow, Stroganov School of Applied Art, Alexander Rodchenko, posters, theater

Fashionable cases fit for travel

Posted by Elizabeth Chase, on Friday October 04, 2013

Accessories were an important component of the well-traveled, and a number of travel cases in the collection exemplify the extent to which designers, and their patrons, celebrated their adventures and flaunted their status. Travel cases, made by companies such as Asprey & Son, became fashionable during the eighteenth century, when the Grand Tour was an essential part of a young man’s education.

Travel cases, travel, Asprey & Son, grand tour

Beech woods in Buckinghamshire

Posted by Dr. Graham Twemlow, on Thursday October 03, 2013

The American born McKnight Kauffer was the most celebrated poster artist working in Britain in the inter-war years. Although renowned for his stylized modernist posters he was also capable of showing a light touch when portraying rural scenes in his printed work. This poster, one of a pair of woodland landscapes, was produced for his major client, London Transport—the company logo, the ‘roundel’, can just be made out at the lower right of the image. These two posters were displayed in close proximity to one another outside entrances to Underground stations.

E. McKnight Kauffer, London Transport, graphic design, poster, landscape, World War II

Sutnar On the Grid

Posted by Jen Cohlman Bracchi, on Wednesday October 02, 2013

Published in Prague for only four years (1926-1930), these issues of the rare Czechoslovakian periodical, Výtvarné snahy [Art Endeavors], feature covers designed by Ladislav Sutnar during 1928 and 1929.  Relevant to the National Design Library’s rare and special collections for both content and graphic design, they also support Cooper-Hewitt Museum’s Sutnar archives and holdings, representing his earlier work while still living in Prague.

Ladislav Sutnar, New Typography, Czech
8 magazine covers

Wallpapers rich in design, not resources

Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Tuesday October 01, 2013

In the current wallcoverings market, environmentally friendly examples are extremely limited, and papers made with toxic inks, vinyl, and other noxious elements still plague the industry. In 2006, artists Jee Levin and Randall Buck founded Trove, a New York–based company that designs and manufactures commercially rated, environmentally responsible wallcoverings.

Trove, sustainable, wall coverings

A redesigned tractor

Posted by Russell Flinchum, on Monday September 30, 2013

In 1937, Deere & Company’s engineers decided that, while they knew how to create dependable and efficient tractors, what they needed was a more cohesive appearance that projected these qualities. They entered into consultations with industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, which led to a more unified design of the tractor and all its different models.

Henry Dreyfuss, John Deere, tractor, farmer, farming, Industrial Design

Paper Clothes

Posted by Matilda McQuaid, on Sunday September 29, 2013

Paper dresses of the 1960s are memorable but they are hardly innovative.  Japan has been weaving with paper since at least the sixteenth century when woven paper– called shifu in Japanese – was most likely developed by the impoverished rural population for lack of other materials. With few raw materials available, farmers originally cut the pages of ancient account books in order to turn them into woven paper. The ink writing on the paper also remained visible in the finished fabric leaving an interesting speckled pattern.

paper, Japan, textiles, cloth, clothes, clothing

Industry vs. Craft

Posted by Emily Shapiro, on Saturday September 28, 2013

Dutch Designer Hella Jongerius has dedicated her career to juxtaposing seemingly contradictory themes in her work: industry and craft, high and low tech, traditional and contemporary influences and modes of creation. She has been featured in exhibitions here at the Cooper-Hewitt, as well as at MoMA and the Design Museum in London, among others.

textiles, Hella Jongerius, mass customization, upholstery