Can you explain the type of work you do with the Cooper Hewitt?
As the Library Director I select and manage the library collections, provide information to researchers, and offer support to Cooper Hewitt curators and Master’s students. Most recently I have been busy creating blogs and essays on library treasures.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I really enjoy developing the library’s rare book collection.
What has been your most memorable moment at the Cooper Hewitt?
My most memorable moment has been the development of the show Christopher Dresser: The Shock of the Old, which exhibited the early roots of industrial design. My favorite task, however, would have to be working with students and staff.
How has the renovation either opened new doors or posed new challenges for you?
The renovation has done both. The challenges have been managing an offsite facility, where 65% of the collection is housed, and quickly getting those resources to researchers. On the other side, the new library space is both elegant and a great place to study. The new rare book room is also environmentally controlled and secure, which are major pluses.
What are you most excited about once the museum reopens?
I am most excited for the Cooper Hewitt to once again exhibit their treasures as well as for the garden to open and become an invaluable public amenity.
How would you describe good design? Bad design?
The textbook description of good design is the innovative use of materials and processes to make objects that are functional and will ultimately improve daily life. But to me, good design encompasses objects that are comfortable, fun to use, and easy to maintain. Bad design occurs when an object’s form and material do not meet the user’s needs and are not sensitive to the environment.
What is your favorite Cooper Hewitt exhibition to date?
In addition to Christopher Dresser, it would be a three way tie between the exhibition of 200 maps in The Power of Maps, the comprehensive show on the ergonomics of Henry Dreyfuss, and the history of dining objects in Feeding Desire.
Which book do you find most interesting within Cooper Hewitt’s library? Why?
Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie, which provides comprehensive information and images on many design objects. The encyclopedia bridged together the worlds of the craftsman and the emerging industrial revolution.
Finally, if you could redesign anything, what would it be?
Affordable housing in New York City.
2 thoughts on “Meet the Staff: Stephen Van Dyk”
claire jeanine satin on September 5, 2016 at 11:52 am
I was referred to you by Julia Blakely who suggested that you might be interested in acquiring artists’ books. Inviting you to view my website’s book section. satinartworks.com
Seven of my works are in the Rare Books and Special Collections of the Library of Congress and many others. After three residencies to Venice Italy and several shows in that country, my latest exhibition took place in Genova as part of the centennial celebration for Henry James.
I would appreciate your response.
Claire Jeanine Satin
Claire Jeanine Satin
Laurel Lamp Foundation on May 14, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Hellp. I am writing to you on behalf of the Laurel Lamp Foundation, a not-for-profit entity created for the purpose of educating about and preserving the legasy of this unique company. We need some help with researching designers of the various lamps and were hoping you might have a few minutes to speak with us.
please call us at 305 904 6435