From squash to cherries and peppers to pineapple, Marion Weeber’s button designs are as simple as they are charming.  Her evocative shapes, bright colors, and whimsical stripe patterns unify this disparate array of fruits and vegetables, drawn in graphite and painted with watercolor.  The buttons themselves were made of individually molded celluloid-a synthetic plastic.  Cooper Hewitt has many examples of Weeber’s enchanting buttons and their corresponding designs in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design and Product Design and Decorative Arts departments, with themes ranging from shoes and sports to garden tools, cocktails, and even polka-dotted fruit.

A successful industrial and graphic designer whose career spanned the latter half of the twentieth century, Weeber garnered acclaim for her jewelry, accessories, and tableware designs.  She opened her own industrial design office in 1938 after training variously at the Art Students League in New York and apprenticing with her father, a noted automobile and aeronautical engineer.[1]

Buoyed by growing consumer culture in the 1940s and an elevation of domestic life in the wake of World War II, designs like Weeber’s for every-day objects of adornment and daily life soared in popularity.  Stripes and polka dots, often paired with cheery colors and relatable subjects, served as popular patterns.

[1] “Marion Weeber-American Industrial Designer,” in Powder Puff: The Compact Collectors Chronicle (Sprint 1998): 3.

 

Caroline O’Connell is the Collections Assistant in the Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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