Author: Rachel Hunnicutt

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Image features a design for chromium-plated bronze floor lamp for the print room of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller’s Topside Gallery in the Rockefeller townhouse at 10 W 54th Street, New York, New York. Above at center, object shown in elevation: circular foot in brushed chromium supports four lengths of rectangular brushed chromium straps that angle upward, stabilized by a pair of rings below and a single ring above, to hold polished chromium, semispherical shade. Below, object shown in plan. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Matron of Modern Design
In celebration of Women’s History Month, March Object of the Day posts highlight women designers—and  today, patrons—in the collection. While this month we’ve been celebrating women designers, today’s post considers the role played by women patrons in the arts, architecture, and design.[1] Where modernism in America is concerned, one of the most influential actors in...
Design for a plastic lunchbox with matching insulated bottle. At center, lunchbox shown in open position. Bottom and top are trapezoidal volumes; bottom features divided food storage compartment while lid features a “bottle lock” to keep bottle in place inside lid (lock shown in open position with rectilinear bottle standing nearby at right). This as well as the hinge connection the two sections are living hinges, meaning they consist of one malleable piece of plastic.
It All Hinges on Plastic
If you’ve ever taken a moment to investigate your shampoo bottle, pill organizer, or Tic-Tac box, you may have noticed the thin, flexible piece of plastic connecting these containers to their lids. This often-overlooked component is the living hinge, an innovation that helped boost plastic’s popularity and versatility. In the broadest sense, “plastic” simply denotes...
Image features design for rectilinear air purifier in metal and wood laminate with hand-holds and modern glass vases displayed on top. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Let’s Clear the Air: The Rise of the Domestic Air Purifier
In ancient Greece, air (along with earth, water, fire, and aether) was one of the five elements thought to comprise all substances. Questions of air quality began to arise in the Middle Ages, even before the composition of the atmosphere was discovered.[1] In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as coal became deeply entrenched in both...
Image features chaise in the form of a long, contoured, rectangular seat/back unit of woven strips on curved wood frame with four flat, angled and tapered legs. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Farm Fresh American Modernism
Edward Durell Stone, born in Arkansas in 1902, was an important proponent of the International Style in the United States, reconciling its crisp geometry and functionalism with American popular tastes. In the 1940s, however, his formalist aesthetic underwent a transformation following a cross-country tour that included visits to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and Yellowstone National...
Image features a design for an undersea lounge seen in elevation. Drawing mounted on presentation board with wide margin at right, superimposed by text label. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
The Swimmin’ Sixties: Donald Deskey Associates’ Undersea Lounge
In the early twentieth century, designers often put their work out to sea. Le Corbusier, Swiss-French pioneer of modern architecture, wrote in his seminal 1931 treatise Towards A New Architecture that “a seriously-minded architect (…) will find in a steamship his freedom from an age-long but contemptible enslavement to the past.”[1] The next year, American...
Image features an interior space with dining tables and a frozen food counter. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Corporate Fare, Frozen: A Donald Deskey Associates’ Cafeteria Concept
In a 1947 article on frozen food for Popular Mechanics, Andrew Hamilton anticipated that “before long you may see frozen dinners served in hotels, trains, planes, ships, factories, offices and your own home.”[1] Earl E. Hoyt Jr., designer and draftsman at Donald Deskey Associates (DDA) between 1960 and 1965, sought to realize Hamilton’s prophecy in...
Getting a Grip on User-Inspired Design
In celebration of the museum’s inaugural Cooper Hewitt Lab: Design Access taking place in the Barbara and Morton Mandel Design Gallery through February 15, we are highlighting innovative accessible design from the permanent collection. Peeling potatoes is tedious enough without having to do battle with ill-designed kitchen gadgets. Why hadn’t these objects evolved to accommodate...
Utility and Marketing: A Matchsafe Made in Heaven
Cooper Hewitt holds a large number of matchsafes: small, metal boxes that emerged around 1830 to house recently invented friction matches. Vital for lighting lanterns, kitchen stoves and smoking accessories, people from all walks of life carried matchsafes, or vesta cases.  The air-tight containers kept matches dry and reduced the risk of spontaneous ignition, a...
A Landmark Design with an Aluminum Shine: John Vassos’s RCA Victor Special Phonograph
This sleek icon of American design embodies the simultaneous rise of listening technology and the streamline moderne style in the 1930s. This portable phonograph’s mechanism was engineered by Alfred Weiland and Selden T. Williams while its case and overall aesthetic were conceived by the prolific graphic and industrial designer John Vassos. Born in Romania, Vassos...