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.

Image features sepia-toned book cover showing furnished interior. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Dear Godwin
In 1877, commercial designer and architect Edward William Godwin collaborated with furniture manufacturer William Watt to produce this trade catalogue held in the Cooper Hewitt Library. Godwin was considered the most innovative designer of the Aesthetic Movement. A brief but pivotal moment in the history of the decorative arts, Aestheticism strove to bring art into...
Image features a car with bright headlights is shown driving across a bridge at night. Lights in the distance are reflected in the water. A light bulb is encircled in the upper right-hand corner, emphasizing the product the car is utilizing. At the bottom of the poster appears the brand name PHILIPS in large orange block letters with white dashes. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Illuminating the Road Ahead
When Louis C. Kalff was hired by Philips in 1925, the company was one of the largest producers of lightbulbs in the world. Kalff created a brand identity for the company, including the iconic logo. For this poster, Kalff illustrated a car whose piercing bright headlights illuminate the scene. The stylized arcs and angles reflect...
Image features a square teapot in pink with white and gilt angled bamboo edges. Triangular spout at corner opposite handle. Decorated with landscape view on one side. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Victorian Teapot in Millenial Pink
Author: Zenia Malmer To the modern eye, this 19th century teapot, made by Edwin James Drew Bodley, who was in charge of an English china and earthenware manufacturer in Staffordshire, might border on kitsch. The spout, handle and edges are decorated with moulded bamboo stalks, with gilding to accentuate their nodes. Bright pink panels feature...
White fabric printed in blue with a design of a man seated on a flying eagle with the inscription "To Philadelphia." Background has a scrolling vine pattern. Made to commemorate the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876.
Away to the Centennial We Go
Author: Virginia Pollock This curious textile was manufactured in the 1870s by American Print Works which was located in Fall River, Massachusetts. Featuring a motif of a figure taking flight on the back of an eagle, the intended destination of the traveler is revealed with the repeated phrase “TO PHILADELPHIA.” In 1876, many individuals were...
Image shows wallpaper with trompe l'oeil design of Gothic architecture. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Gothic Revival Wallpaper
A striking Gothic Revival wallpaper with a fairly large repeat, made possible by the woodblock printing. Inspired by Gothic cathedral architecture this design contains two different views: one showing a very deep perspective looking through a chamber with vaulted ceilings, into another with columns, and arched windows and doors, while the other view is a...
Images features the Virgin Mary, seated in a stable, holding the infant Jesus, who emits a radiant light. The pair are surrounded by a group of adoring angels and shepherds, while above, the rafters open to a heavenly scene of clouds and putti. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this image.
Brighter Than The Sun
In the late fourteenth century, an elderly nun named Bridget experienced a mystical vision.  Born in Sweden in 1303, Bridget (now St. Bridget) was nearly seventy when she made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, and witnessed a holy sight.  In her account of what transpired, St. Bridget describes a vision of the birth of Jesus in...
Image features bowl of inverted cone shape, the thick outer wall of polyester resin in tones of orange, bonded to an inner wall of white porcelain, its inner surface glazed turquoise. Please scroll down the read the blog post about this object.
Dance of Complementary Colors
This bowl sends a colorful optical jolt by balancing complementary hues; the red-orange of the exterior against the turquoise of the interior. The interplay of the warm red-orange and the cool turquoise results in visual excitement as the eye shifts back and forth between the two. Adding to the interplay is the juxtaposition of the two...
Object features: Square scarf of yellow silk crepe with an appliqué design of leaves and small flowers in green and yellow. Initials MK appliquéd in two corners. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Sunny Scarf
Mariska Karasz’s fashions for women were clean, simple, and modern in cut, but were made unique, charming, and unusual through the addition of appliquéd and embroidered patterns inspired by traditional folk embroideries of her native Hungary. “Dateless is Mme. Karasz’s own description of the evening and afternoon frocks and hostess gowns that are classically princess...
Image shows striped wallpaper design with attached lithograph of room interior. Please scroll down to read the blog post this object.
Sample Books Offer Clues to Decor Trends
Wallpaper sample books are one of the lesser known areas of the Wallcoverings department. While sample books can vary greatly in quality and size, each has a story to tell, offering insights into period color trends and wall treatments. The earliest surviving American sample book was produced by the Janes & Bolles Company, in business...