about

The Object of the Day blog is written by Cooper Hewitt’s curators, graduate fellows, and contributing researchers and scholars. Posts are published five times a week (Monday through Friday) and present research on an object from the museum’s collection. With over 210,00 objects spanning thirty centuries of decorative arts and design, Object of the Day explores the material culture of textiles, graphic design, furniture, products, architectural drawings, wallcoverings, and much more. You can also subscribe to our Object of the Day email for a daily dose of design delivered to your inbox.

This object features: Small, square weaving with a grid of stepped motifs alternating off-white with a palette of soft shades: violet, blue-green, brown, terra cotta, and yellow. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
James Bassler, Thread by Thread
Paired sets of stepped blocks in harmony and balance echo an ancient process. James Bassler (American, b. 1933), in his work Six by Four II, incorporates an aesthetic of pure color through the interlacing of warps and wefts in a special way. By changing the colors of each block, linked one to the other, thread...
Image features a brown wooden chair with straight legs and low stretchers, slightly angled back and rectangular seat, both upholstered in tan to brown fabric. The legs and frame back are decorated with square ebony inlay. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Nieuwe, Not Nouveau
Refined, rational, and demonstrably Dutch, this was the aim when Hendrik Petrus Berlage designed this chair for the Amsterdam-based firm, ‘t Binnenhuis (The Interior). This important architect and designer opened the firm in 1900 in collaboration with the insurance company director, Carel Henny, jeweler, Willem Hoeker, and interior designer, Jacob van den Bosch.[1] Motivated by...
Image features a design of a black sheep or ewe performing a variety of beauty rituals. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
This Ewe Rocks!
I always get good feedback when I blog about poodle wallpapers from the post-war period. They seem to trigger an emotional response, and people either love them or hate them. I’ve pretty much exploited all the poodle wallpapers in the collection, but fear not, I’ve found a substitute. This paper features a black sheep, primping...
Selling Victorian Wallpaper
The wallpaper manufacturer, Jeffrey & Co. published the trade catalog, The “Victorian” wall-papers, embossed leather-papers, staircase decorations, ceiling papers, detailing their collection of wallpapers, in 1887. Based at 64 Essex Road in London, the firm worked with a variety of designers who were active in the aesthetic and arts and crafts movements, such as E.W....
Image feature two drawings on one page. In the upper left corner, an alligator sits in a coal bucket, facing towards the right. In the lower right, a little girl, seen from behind, reaches for the top shelf of a bookcase, rising on her toes. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Little April Fool
The collection at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum includes nearly 500 drawings from the estate of illustrator Florence Choate. Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1878, Choate studied at the Art Students League in New York where she was awarded scholarships in portrait and figure drawing.  There, she met fellow student Elizabeth A. Curtis, who...
Weaving Wonders of Richard Landis
American weaver Richard Landis’s works are characterized by complex design systems that echo the logic of their construction with a limited vocabulary of materials, texture, geometric forms, and colors. From his earliest days at the loom, Landis decided he would work only in plain weave and within the opportunities offered by handwoven, loom-controlled design. He...
Image features a bronze brooch in the realistic form of a decayed and torn dried leaf, in tones of ochre to golden brown. Please scroll down to read the blog post about the object.
Capturing a Bit of Autumn
This bronze brooch by John Iversen, in the form of a delicate decaying leaf with all its ripples and tears, celebrates the variety, cycles, and even decline found in nature. Variations in the metal’s color and finish meticulously capture a dry leaf’s faded hues and brittle textures, heightening a sense of nature’s unpredictability and randomness....
Image features a wallpaper with mosaic-like design composed of butterfly wings. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Winging It
Thought it was time to show another wallpaper by Damien Hirst. Like many modern and contemporary artists who turn to wallpaper design, Hirst uses his artwork or installations as inspiration. This is based on the “Kaleidoscope” paintings Hirst began creating in 2001, where butterflies, or butterfly wings, were arranged in elaborate patterns and adhered to...
In this Russian-designed poster for the German film ‘The Boxer’s Bride,’ the disembodied faces of a man and a woman smile out at the viewer from a black background, hovering above a stylized boxing ring. Their heads are enveloped in concentric circles, to give the impression of their presence as an apparition. In the boxing ring below, two fighters spar on a vibrant red floor, the white perimeter of the ring cutting rectangular outline, which appears as a stack of three suspended squares. Below, in blocky black letters on yellow, the title of the film in Russian. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
USSR In The Ring
In the early years of the Soviet Union, there was a strong urge to understand all elements of life in terms relating either to the bourgeoisie or the proletariat. Many longstanding assumptions pertaining to the role of arts and leisure in society were subject to ideological debate. Constructivist artists, eager to secure a role for...