20th century

Tea, anyone?
Until the 1920’s, the tea industry’s main outlet was Great Britain, where consumption had been rising significantly since the beginning of the century[1]. This situation changed after the First World War and the economic crisis following the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Traditional surpluses in tea production from British India and Ceylon surged, while increasing pressure...
Extravagant Interior by Tommi Parzinger
I was lucky enough to have lived with Tommi (Anton) Parzinger furniture as a teenager. I was raised in a modern house, and my mother worked with an interior designer who ordered several Parzinger pieces, a brass-studded sideboard, a brass chandelier and a coffee set. Today my sister has the sideboard and I have the...
Horizontal red and black poster in which two military leaders pull a cart of symbolic figures across a field. Behind the cart, three figures are sprawled on the ground. Red and white Cyrillic text is printed in the top right.
A Graphic Field of Bayonets
In this Soviet poster designed by Dmitri Moor, cartoonish figures trek across a dark landscape transformed by war. Along the lower border, Moor substitutes bloody bayonets for blades of grass, implying that Soviet land is hostile to these travelers, all of whom are enemies of the Bolshevik cause. The poster satirizes Soviet adversaries in both...
Measure: Behind Enemy Lines
“Escape and Evasion” maps were given to airmen during World War II to avoid capture behind enemy lines. Such maps were one of many in the military man’s arsenal, but in some respects this navigational tool represents one of the most significant products of war-era ingenuity. This Pacific Ocean “drift map,” scaled at 1:4,000,000, illustrates...
19-- Matt Flynn 059
Communicate: Instant Photography Before the Internet
When Edwin Land, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, introduced the SX-70 instant camera, he could have hardly predicted how forward-thinking his design truly was. The idea of instant photography, something synonymous with today’s smartphone and social media image sharing applications, was more or less an inexact science before 1972, the year that the SX-70 was...
Six blocks of text outlining Stalin's 1931 "Six Conditions" speech overlap a black and white photo of Stalin. Additional quotes from the speech, printed in red and black Cyrillic appear to the right of Stalin's head at an angle against a cream-colored section. Above this, the speech's title appears in red, against a grey background.
Designing for a Dictator
Bold text surrounds a black-and-white photograph of Joseph Stalin in this Soviet poster from 1931. The poster was designed to reinforce the tenets of a speech by the leader, delivered to a meeting of industrial managers in June of the same year. The speech outlined six conditions for new industrial development, all of which are...
Length of printed cotton crepe with a teal blue ground and a wide central column made up of narrow horizontal rectangles in various shades of blue, green, yellow, white and gray; thin lines extend from the center to the edges of the fabric.
New Day
Often called “England’s Eamses,” Robin and Lucienne Day were a designing couple utterly committed to modernism. The unexpectedness and vitality of their postwar interior furnishings, particularly Lucienne’s pattern designs for textiles, carpets, wallcoverings, and dishware, shaped the look of modern England in the 1950s. Lucienne is rightfully famous for Calyx, the organic design inspired by the work...
Object of the Month: Finnish Hop
The Lindy Hop was a swing dance phenomenon, but the Finnish Hop? This lively design was produced by the artists’ collective know as The Folly Cove Designers, for its location near Gloucester on the Massachusetts coast. Many Finnish immigrants had settled there, attracted by skilled work in the granite quarries or the boat building industry....
Cooper-Hewitt Visits Smart Design
Cooper-Hewitt recently acquired several original prototypes and drawings used to develop OXO's Good Grips product line. Cooper-Hewitt curators identified this line for the museum's collection because the products were a game-changing innovation iconic of late 20th century design. Watch this video to learn more about the story behind the objects.