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It’s Just Chicken Feed
The 1950s were the last big hey-day for wallpaper usage. People still papered all four walls and complementary wallpapers were popular. This included a bolder pattern on one wall with a coordinating paper on the three adjoining walls. Another popular option was to paper two adjoining rooms with complementary papers. The fifties was also the...
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Showing the Way: A New Light on Old Skills
One of the most wonderful mixtures of new technology-electricity-with elegant hand-crafted materials, in this case glass and metalwork, is this table lamp. It shines forth with the strength of electricity but uses soda glass to create a glow more associated with a pre-electrified era. William Arthur Benson, who was trained as an architect, took up...
Sampler, 1730, England, Embroidered by Mary Finkel (English,  n.d.), silk and linen embroidery with needle-lace fillings on linen, Bequest of Rosalie Coe, from the collection inherited from her mother, Eva Johnston Coe, 1974-42-3.
School Exercises
Samplers originally served as sketchbooks where women could record stitches and design ideas for future use. With the advent of printed books of patterns for lace and embroidery in the 16th century, this practice became less common, and samplers evolved into exercises for girls learning the techniques of needlework. Several samplers of nearly identical format...
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Green Glossary: G for Greenwashing
Sustainability has become fashion’s hottest topic – at least in words and marketing campaigns. Green, clean, organic materials, natural fibers and dyes, recycled products, eco-conscious… In the abundant sustainability lexicon used by fashion companies for branding and marketing, customers can easily get confused. For instance, natural fibers are not necessarily organic, and chemical fibers such as polyester can...
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A Surreal View of the Land
I have always been fond of landscape friezes and I sometimes wish I lived in a nice bungalow where I could actually use some of these different wall treatments to best effect. I’ve probably mentioned before that wide landscape friezes were popularized by Walter Crane when he introduced his May Tree frieze in 1896, and...
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Designing Recovery Housing
Interview with JUANITA VALDEZ-COX, Executive Director, LUPE (La Unión Del Pueblo Entero), and BRENT BROWN, Founder, bcWORKSHOP (Building Community Workshop) By Cynthia Smith Cynthia Smith (CS): Juanita, can you tell me how LUPE (La Unión Del Pueblo Entero) started and how the organization works? Juanita Valdez-Cox (JV): LUPE was founded in 1989 in California by...
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Drafting Justice
This large, circular drawing (1959-69-9), nearly three feet in height and width, is a study for a glass mosaic installed at the Wisconsin State Capital Building in Madison, Wisconsin.  Designed by Kenyon Cox (American, 1856-1919), this drawing was probably one of several preparatory works that Cox made before cutting, arranging, and gluing tiny glass tesserae, or pieces, to translate the drawn...
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Master of the Chair
Hans J. Wegner was a pioneer in modern Danish design in the 1950s and 1960s. Having designed more than 500 chairs throughout his career, with 100 of them being mass-produced, he has been affectionately known within the design world as the “Master of the Chair”.  His ingenious use of natural materials, in particular his admiration...
Textile: Shibori Stripe, Fireworks colorway, 2015, USA, 100% polyester digitally printed by heat sublimation/dye transfer, Gift of Designtex Group, 2016-14-6
Affordable, Cleanable, Sustainable
One of the greatest challenges in designing commercial textiles has been creating durable, cleanable, affordable, and aesthetically pleasing fabrics for highly trafficked and 24/7 environments like healthcare facilities, theaters and airports. In addition, there is more demand for textiles with sustainable manufacturing practices, and companies like Designtex are taking on this responsibility and producing some...