Deco Dictators
Contemporary critics generally considered Gustav Jensen’s stylish illustrations and overall design for “The Rise of Rome” to be the highlight of the 1932 publication. The book, a simplified history of Rome’s transition from Republic to the Imperial rule of the Caesars, was written for a high-school audience by Gordon Congdon King.  Reviews frequently complimented Jensen’s contributions, noting the pleasing “aesthetic experimentation” in format,...
Scrollwork and Squirrels
I love the contrast in this paper by Jacquemart et Bénard between the monochrome neoclassical ornament and the vibrantly-colored animals. This sidewall hovers on the border between the austere Empire style of the first decades of the 19th century and the mid-century taste for highly-detailed, brightly-colored designs. The overall layout of this paper, with its...
Shaken or Stirred
In a scene from the 1934 film, The Thin Man, retired detective Nick Charles (William Powell) demonstrates to a group of bartenders the skills needed to shake a good cocktail. While vehemently shaking a cocktail shaker with one hand, he says to them, “See, the important thing is the rhythm, always have rhythm in your...
This Museum is Gorges
Where does a building end and the earth that surrounds it begin? Often, this question is easy to answer. We tend to think of buildings and land supporting them as separate entities. This preliminary drawing by the Weiss/Manfredi Architects for the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York shows us that sometimes buildings and...
Bedazzled All Over Again
I acquired Bedazzled for the museum collection in 2004. I had seen an advertisement in a shelter magazine and wanted to visit the showroom to experience it and pick up a sample. When I walked into the showroom this wallcovering, in silver, was installed on a large curved wall and was totally breathtaking. It was...
Planning and Designing Beyond Equity in Cities Across America
Interview with Toni L. Griffin and Chris Reed, who collaborated on the Detroit Future City Strategic Framework—an innovative planning model for urban revitalization.
Appliances Sailing into the American Home
By 1942 the streamlined modern designs of Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes and Henry Dreyfuss were becoming familiar to the American public. Those people who attended the World’s Fairs throughout the 1930s were witnesses to the marvels exploding on the consumer front, affecting everything from cars to home appliances. Blenders were originally introduced in...
Harmonious Color and Texture
Maria Kipp is considered to be the first woman in the United States to found a commercially successful hand-weaving enterprise. Born in a small town in Germany in 1900, she was the first woman to enter Munich’s Kunstgewerbe art school at age 18, then went on to be the first woman student of the Muenchberg...
Secret of the Garden
Daniel Marot, architect, decorative designer and engraver fled, like many other Huguenot workers, from France to Holland due to the revocation of the Edict of the Nantes in 1685.  The Edict had offered measures to ensure religious liberty and its revocation sent shock waves through Protestant communities who were no longer protected.  Bringing his talent...