Author: Ellen Lupton

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Eva Zeisel cutouts
Flatware Cutouts, Eva Zeisel
Born in Hungary in 1906, Eva Zeisel endured two world wars and the Soviet revolution. She spent sixteen months in a Russian prison and escaped Nazi persecution before emigrating to the U.S. in 1938. Best known for her ceramics, Zeisel called herself a modernist with a “little m.” She rejected doctrinaire geometries in favor of...
Big Ben alarm clock, by Henry Dreyfuss
Making Handles Obvious
Pioneering industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss believed that products should be fit to people, not the other way around. His 1955 book Designing for People explains his design philosophy to a general audience. Handles, controls, and other points of contact between people and machines should be obvious to use, not artfully hidden away. Below, hear Dreyfuss...
Princess Phone, Henry Dreyfuss
For much of the twentieth century, telephones were standard issue, designed for durability and function rather than consumer appeal. After 1953, color transformed the telephone from a basic technology into an alluring consumer product. AT&T ran ad campaigns encouraging women to see the phone as an element of home decoration. What if new phone models...
Image of a Model 500 Telephone, Designed by Henry Dreyfuss. Read below a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the museum.
Model 500 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
Henry Dreyfuss’s earlier Model 302 was a beautiful sculptural object, but it had usability problems. The triangular profile of the handset caused the device to turn when cradled against the shoulder—the design didn’t account for people’s intuitive desire to talk hands-free. Dreyfuss addressed this issue with the Model 500, introduced in 1949. To create the...
Model 302 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
In the 1930s, Bell Labs asked Henry Dreyfuss to create a new telephone set, to be used across AT&T’s vast phone system. Dreyfuss was a young man and an emerging voice in the field of industrial design. Designers including Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague were reinventing the point of contact between people and...
Remembering Massimo Vignelli (1931-2014)
From the moment Massimo Vignelli started his career in Italy in the mid-1950s, he forged a rigorous philosophy that transformed the international language of design for print, products, and environments. Over the decades, debates about design’s cultural function bubbled and boiled around him. Confronting the upheavals of Pop, post-modernism, deconstruction, and the digital age, Massimo...
A poetic transformation of industrial waste
The Cabbage chair was created for an exhibition organized in Japan by Issey Miyake, who challenged his contemporaries to conceive of new products for the twenty-first-century. What types of furniture and objects are appropriate, Miyake asked, for people who “don’t just wear clothes, but shed their skin?” He invited Oki Sato of Nendo to find...
Map: Worldmapper Project: Global Internet Use 1990 and 2007. Designed by Danny Dorling, John Pritchard, Benjamin I. Wheeler, Graham Allsopp, Anna Barford, and Mark Newman, 2007. Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund. 2012-19-1.
A cartogram of global internet use
Most maps are built around representations of geographical land mass. Worldmapper show us something different. This collaborative team of cartographers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Michigan is exploring the uneven effects of globalization. Rather than depict how much land a given territory occupies, each map shows how a social or economic...
Rows of letters and numbers printed in orange on white. Serged on all 4 sides.
Alphabet
When do graphic design and textile design merge and overlap? The great mid-century designer Alexander Girard is best known for his work as founding director of the Herman Miller Textile Division, a post he held from 1952 through 1973. There, working alongside such design legends as George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, he created...