Building up Affordable Housing in Interwar France
In the 1920s, architect Hector Guimard, a pioneer of the stylized natural forms and curving lines of late 19th century Art Nouveau, turned his attention to socially conscious design as France struggled to recover from the widespread devastation of the First World War. The impact of the “Great War” on French infrastructure, agriculture and housing...
And the Crown goes to Crane
Walter Crane was one of the most successful of late Victorian designers, and this must be one of his most beautiful patterns for wallpaper. It is a multi-layered design featuring several fantastical motifs such as winged sphinxes, winged lions, peacocks, the biblical Tree of Knowledge with the serpent wrapped around it, and medieval standards topped...
Bold Stripes
A series of wool fabrics in saturated, oversized plaid is Designtex’s most recent collaboration with Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell of the British textile studio Wallace Sewell (already represented in Cooper Hewitt’s collection with a blanket). The large-repeat stripes and grids are inspired in part by Bauhaus textile artist Anni Albers and in part by...
Heralds of spring
Ragged, curvy and relentless, the pussy willow catkins in this print are symbolic of the battle for spring that marks the month of March.  Designed by Theodor van Hoytema (Dutch, 1863-1917) for a 1911 calendar, one can understand the month it represents even without translating the Dutch word at the top: “Maart” or March.  Known...
Modern Velvet
In composition, Kaleidoscope closely resembles Larsen’s famous design of concentric squares, Magnum. But whereas that design was machine-embroidered around mirror-like squares of Mylar, Kaleidoscope is a durable, hard-wearing upholstery in a technique called epinglé velvet – so named for the wires which are inserted into the shed during the weaving and over which the pile...
Bound but not Broken
Frank Karslake introduced the Guild of Women Binders in 1898 after meeting an influential group of female bookbinders in various parts of Britain; many of whom worked in shops under men or even from their own homes.  Karslake first became interested in these makers in 1897 when he visited the Victorian Era Exhibition at the Earl’s...
Hesse’s Study
This figure study of a nude male depicted from the rear in contrapposto, bears the geometric massing and imperfect proportions of the work of a student.  Made in 1957, the drawing is a vestige of the collegiate days of renowned artist Eva Hesse (b. Hamburg, 1936-1970). From 1954-1957, Hesse was a student at the Cooper Union...
Travel in Style Without Clashing
Innovations in transportation and mobility were to become a common theme in wallpaper design. Similar images frequently appeared on bandboxes and hat boxes starting in the 1830’s. A sign of mobility themselves, these boxes were used for the safe transport and storage of men’s removable collars and hats. Early designs include historic hot air balloon...
Ribbons
Alexander Hayden Girard made an indelible (and colorful!) impact on 20th century modernist textile design. At the helm of Herman Miller’s textiles division, his playfulness provided a warm complement to the stark simplicity of furniture designs of Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson. As its title suggests, Ribbons features overlapping, irregular vertical rectangles reminiscent...