These cubic cardboard ornaments are just the thing for an atomic holiday. Designed in 1956 by Van der Lanken and Lundquist and manufactured by Norse Craft, Inc., they were exhibited the next year at the 3rd annual American Package Design Competition held at Cooper Union and were subsequently given to the museum’s collection. A modern take on traditional Christmas ornaments, these playful prisms were sold as a set of twelve, collapsed in their cardboard storage box. They were marketed as unbreakable, flameproof, washable, and able to be folded up in just seconds.
Infused with mid-century charm, each ornament presents a different geometric design printed in bright colors on gold foil. Triangles, squares, starbursts and grids play across the cubes; no two sides are exactly alike. The ornaments evoke atomic optimism with abstracted snowflake shapes and bold colors not traditionally employed in holiday décor.
The kitschy cubes were a departure from the work of architectural firm Van der Lanken and Lundquist, best known for their lighting designs. Partner Oliver Lundquist is also remarkable for serving on the design team that created the United Nations logo, as well as for creating the original blue and white Q-Tip box.
Lundquist clearly knew that whether cotton swabs or Christmas cheer, good things come in even better packages.
Rachel Hunnicutt is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program at the Cooper Hewitt, and is a Fellow in the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department.