This chair is not comfortable to sit on, which defies the idea of a chair. But it is sublime and necessary.

What is the obligation of the designer? What are we supposed to feel or do with the things around us?

Z-form chair constructed of wide planks; rough construction painted white.

Reitveld was rigorous about what he would allow in a room.

That is a great exercise. Remove anything that does not make you gasp with delight. What will you be left with?

A ladder in the middle of the room.

A ladder on a wooden floor.

And a platter of bonbons on a green table?

The ancient kantharos reminds me of a Mickey Mouse cap. But it is precise and elegant.

Footed cup with two high looped handles.

Was it used or too fragile? Was it expensive? Did you just go out and buy another one if some clumsy friend broke it during a boring dinner party?

Does it have a sense of humor or joy? Did humor ever inform the ancient objects that we take so seriously?

If i were drinking wine from the vessel maybe i would not be asking so many annoying questions.


Maira Kalman is an illustrator, artist, author and designer. She is the author of My Favorite Things, the catalogue to her Cooper Hewitt exhibition, and Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag, a unique ABC book that celebrates thirty-one objects from the museum’s collection.  You can purchase both of these books, as well as the Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag puzzle at

These objects will be on view beginning December 12th in Maira Kalman Selects, an exhibition in the former Music Room of the Carnegie Mansion.

Learn more at

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