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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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

A Subtle Blooming Wallpaper

Posted by Rachel Brill, on Friday February 08, 2013

This very high-quality wallcovering, produced by the New York firm Leissner & Louis, ca. 1872-78, is woodblock-printed on embossed paper, demonstrating a well-executed design and of equal quality print.

wallpaper, floral, Victorian, aesthetic, japanesque

To Tell the Truth

Posted by Stephen H. Van Dyk, on Thursday February 07, 2013

In the 1930s, Blue Ribbon Books and Pleasure Books, who published a series of colorful pop-up books including The Pop-up Pinocchio, were the first to coin the phrase “pop-up book”. In a five year period, they produced more than ten remarkable pop-up books on classic fairy tales including Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack the Giant Killer, Puss in Boots, and Little Red Riding Hood. Each of these titles featured large print text, thick board paper, colorful cartoon-like images and well constructed pop-ups that greatly appeal to chil

Blue Ribbon Books, pop-up books, Harold Lentz, Smithsonian Libraries, Pinocchio

Did Hofman have a change of heart?

Posted by Elaine Gerstein, on Wednesday February 06, 2013

Quirky and interesting, this elevation caught my eye as an object of the day to write about. I was especially drawn to the work, “Elevation Design for a Sitting Room, with Sofa, Two Chairs and Table”, because recently, the Cooper-Hewitt had a wonderful exhibit, House Proud, which was a look into 19th century rooms through watercolors. I wondered if there was any link to these room studies. But, this elevation, also a watercolor, was done later, in 1919.

Hofman, hexagon, Rondo, Cubism, Minimalist, decor

Robinson Crusoe

Posted by Greg Herringshaw, on Tuesday February 05, 2013

I find it interesting that the novel Robinson Crusoe, written by Daniel Defoe in 1719, while not originally intended for a child audience, became the subject of one of the earliest children’s wallpapers. Early children’s wallpapers were designed to be educational and not to amuse. While this book was a novel about travel and adventure and would certainly have appealed to the imaginations of children, it also delivers a strong message of faith. This is the aspect of the novel that would have appealed to manufacturers and parents.

wallpaper, Children, Crusoe, washable, intaglio

The Instruments of Christ’s Passion for $2 a Yard

Posted by Maleyne Syracuse, on Monday February 04, 2013

In 1951, Fernand Léger designed seventeen monumental stained glass windows (vitrail, in French), depicting the instruments of Christ’s passion, for the new Eglise du Sacré Coeur in Audincourt, France.

In 1955, Léger used the design for one of these windows, Pincers and Nails, as the pattern for Vitrail, a textile produced by Fuller Fabrics.

Fernand Léger, Fuller Fabrics, Modern Master Series, L’Eglise de Sacré Coeur Audincourt

Is that really a textile?

Posted by Kimberly Cisneros, on Sunday February 03, 2013

At first glance, Figures with Still Life, designed by Ruth Reeves, looks like a modern art painting. I did a double take when I realized it was, instead, a screen printed textile on plain weave. Throughout her career, Reeves designed a variety of objects in modern styles including tapestries, wall hangings, wall fabrics, carpeting, and dresses. 

Ruth Reeves, Art Deco, Cubism, figures representing daily life, wall hanging

New York Classic

Posted by Cynthia E. Smith, on Saturday February 02, 2013

Like thousands of others, I pass through Grand Central Terminal every day on my way to work. Actually I am on a subway train passing below, but in my mind’s eye I picture the magnificent granite and limestone building looming above Park Avenue interrupting the busy boulevard. Even today it stands as an enduring temple to urban transportation, commerce and design.

Whitney Warren, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, drawing, Charles Wetmore, Reed and Stern, Architecture, Manhattan, Columbia University, Ecole des Beaux Arts, National Historic Landmark, granite, limestone

Flights of Fancy

Posted by Susan Brown, on Friday February 01, 2013

Les coquecigrues” features in several French expressions, such as “á la venue des coqucigrues,” which has the meaning and something of the feeling of “when pigs fly.” But this enchanting fabric suggests another expression, “regarder voler les coquecigrues,&rdqu

Oberkampf, coquecigrues, Mme. Jules Mallet


Posted by Caitlin Condell, on Thursday January 31, 2013

In 1931 when he designed this poster, the Swiss artist, designer, and architect Max Bill had already completed several years of study at the Bauhaus under the guidance of artistic luminaries Oskar Schlemmer, Paul Klee, and Wassily Kandinsky.  Bill had returned to Switzerland in 1929, and it was while living in Z&uu

Max Bill, poster, graphic design, dance, Käthe Wulff, Mariette von Meyenburg, Bauhaus, Rudolf von Laban, Oskar Schlemmer