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Handkerchief, early 19th century, France
A Loom[ing] Controversy
In the center of his handkerchief is a portrait of Marie Louis Jacquard (1752-1834), inventor of the jacquard loom. Patented in 1804, the loom included a punch-card mechanism for controlling the action of the warp, greatly simplifying the production of complex fabrics and revolutionizing the French silk industry, symbolized by the caterpillars and cocoons nestled...
1992-52-28-a_e
Getting a Grip on User-Inspired Design
Peeling potatoes is tedious enough without having to do battle with ill-designed kitchen gadgets. Why hadn’t these objects evolved to accommodate users, rather than the other way around? Sam Farber found himself wondering just that when he noticed his wife Betsey, who suffered from arthritis in her hands, struggling to use an old-fashioned peeler. Farber...
2015-5-12
Iron, Meet Glass
The postwar design era focused largely on improving all aspects of life at home for those who had maintained it during the war and those who were just returning. The remodeled electric iron was one among many postwar innovations, but this Silver Streak iron in particular epitomizes the design period. The Silver Streak’s aerodynamic form...
Big and Bigger: Designing for Scale
Cooper Hewitt curator Matilda McQuaid moderates a panel discussion about the role tools play in large-scale projects. Panelists including Paul Ceruzzi of the National Air & Space Museum, William Goodrich of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Chuck Hoberman, artist, engineer, and inventor of folding and transforming structures, provide insight into how we use powerful tools...
Highlights from Solar Wall
The Solar Wall is featured in Tools: Extending Our Reach, on view from 12.12.2014 to 5.25.2015. Video display of the Sun’s surface from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO); Satellite launch date: February 11, 2010. Courtesy of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
7001-1-2014-RS
Make: A Portrait in Sand
The SketchBot interface is composed of a series of 21st-century tools, including a digital camera, computer software, and a robot. But it also makes use of a natural material older than mankind itself: sand. The sand is incorporated into a multistep process that results in a portrait that can be wiped away to make way...
83539_825fbb6e5d182d9f_b
Observe: An Inspired and Empowering Hearing Device
How can you make a hearing aid both elegant and functional at the same time? Stuart Karten Design introduced the Zon as a way to combat the stigma that is usually associated with the traditional beige shrimp-shaped hearing aids. Often associated with age, weakness or even disability, many individuals with hearing impairments wait as long...
CHSDM-6857-1-2013MattFlynn
Survive: A High-Performance Prosthetic
The Flex-Foot Cheetah incorporates untraditional materials to solve a design problem that had vexed the medical field for years: finding a prosthetic solution that allows the user to live a normal, active lifestyle. Van Phillips lost his leg below the knee at the age of 21. Unsatisfied with the prosthetics then available to him, he...
CHSDM-6873-1-2014LMattFlynn
Toolbox: Sleek and Sophisticated Meets Portable All-in-One
Toolboxes come in all shapes and sizes. They offer a resting place for the mechanic’s hand tools and a protective environment for the chef’s knives. Yet such toolboxes serve a select audience. In the 21st-century, the computer is the universal toolbox, used by billions of people across the globe. Early computers, including Bill Moggridge’s influential GRiD Compass...