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 festures porcelain etui in the form of a naturalistic asparagus tip with hinged lid at base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Asparagus to Go
Trompe-l’oeil ceramics such as this porcelain étui modelled after an asparagus tip were all the rage in Europe and England during the 18th century. Etuis are small ornamental personal cases that were used to carry toiletry items or sewing tools, and would have been used primarily by women. Other examples of trompe-l’oeil ceramics included tureens...
Status Cloth
The sophisticated visual culture of the Kuba kingdom has been noted since the first explorers visited the region. Abstract geometric patterning is deployed across all media, from scarification of the skin to textiles, basketry, pottery, and even the woven walls of noble dwellings. The devices of color alternation, contrast of surface texture, and play of...
Image shows a relief wallcovering having the appearance of bricks. Please scroll down for additional information on this object.
Relief for Boring Walls
Katzenbach & Warren, Inc., one of the major twentieth century New York wallpaper manufacturers, introduced their new line of “Sculptured Wallcoverings” in 1946. This line initially consisted of two relief patterns: one imitating woodgrain, the other straw matting. Additional patterns were introduced in 1948 including Brick. All of the patterns in this line were completely...
Image features front and back covers that have black printed text against a pale yellow background. Front cover incorporates various black and white photoillustrations of hard candies in cellophane wrappers. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Cellophane-covered Catalyst
Although Elaine Lustig Cohen left behind a significant body of work, she did not really begin her own graphic design career until the death of her husband, Alvin Lustig, in 1955. Lustig, one of the most influential graphic designers, relied on his wife to serve as his secretary, draftsperson, and production assistant, becoming increasingly dependent...
Image features Mirror in large, carved and gilded vertical frame with double arch at top with pyramid of asymmetrical and tall curved leaf forms at each corner which flow into serpentine curves and then join straight sides; flowers entwined around straight sides; bottom rail duplicates curve at top rail and has asymmetrical group of foliage carved at center. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Reflections on Light
Mirrors, a commonplace fixture in the modern world, were not always the familiar accessory that they are today. Although some form of mirror has existed since ancient times, mirrors such as this 18th-century example used early industrial processes to create the fragile, metal-coated glass panes placed within a decorative frame. During the 18th century glass-making...
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...