How can an archive draw a map through a nearly forgotten designer’s four-decade long career? How can an 8 x 10 inch fabric swatch embody a design era, from material choices to color palette? What role can invoices and order books play in filling in key gaps and bringing that era to life? Designer Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) has been called “the greatest modern weaver” and “the mother of the 20th century palette,” yet her outsized and enduring contributions to American modern design remain largely unknown.
This talk celebrates the recently-completed digitization of the Dorothy Liebes Papers at Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, made possible by The Coby Foundation—and explore some of the ways they illuminate Cooper Hewitt’s collections.