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 black and white photomontage combining image of roast pork apparently flying in the sky alongside US Army bombers. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Recipe for Victory
A pork shank flies through the air, flanked by nine Allied bombers. Perspective lines shoot out from a distant point of origin, emphasizing the speed, impact, and patriotic urgency of the heroic ham and her military escort. But why? Signed “herbert bayer” in the upper left corner, this mysterious black-and-white printed photomontage is part of...
Image features: a U-shaped drawstring purse in green, with a stylized design of fuchsias in two greens, violet, two pinks, yellow and white. Long green cord with tassel. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Sophisticated Sample
Author: Rachel Pool This green purse is made from silk embroidery, plant fibers, and glass beads. A single tassel dangles from one side of the purse. Made between 1910 and 1912, the purse exhibits the Art Nouveau design style, indicated by the embroidered motif that displays organic patterns taken from nature, shown in the form...
Image features a circular dish, the surface with airbrushed geometric decoration of pale peach, grey and yellow triangles and small circles on a cream-colored ground. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Spritz-Deco
A compressor rumbling. A nozzle hissing. The colorful geometric shapes decorating this otherwise straightforward dish were not painted by hand. Rather they were applied by a device novel to the world of ceramics: the airbrush. The important and prolific German designer, Martha Katzer (1897–1947), created this dish for the Karlsruhe Majolika Manufaktur (KMM) in Baden,...
Image features a vinyl wallcovering with a dense pattern of thick yellow rings rendered in trompe l'oeil. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Wallcovering for your Sweet Tooth
In case these gray winter skies are getting you down, here is a perky wallpaper to brighten the mood. Aptly titled “Life Savers,” this wallcovering enlivened the interiors market sometime in the early 1970s. The design consists of circles, or life savers if you will, tightly aligned in polka dot fashion. The front of each...
Image features a drawing of a night scene showing an idealized rocky landscape with falling snow. In the sky is the star of Bethlehem. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Night Visitors
Amahl and the Night Visitors was the original Hallmark Christmas movie. The one-act opera by Gian Carlo Menotti was the first opera composed for television in the United States. Commissioned by NBC, it was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1951 from a studio in Rockefeller Center. Sponsored by Hallmark, it was also the debut...
Image features: Brisé fan with pierced sticks. Moire effect produced by darker brown color swirling through tan color. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Ivory Substitute
This fan is in “good” condition for cellulose nitrate and therefore a rarity. Cellulose nitrate is an early plastic polymer invented in the mid-nineteenth century and derived from cellulose that is treated with nitric acid. The material gradually degrades, releasing nitric acid. This fan documents a time of experimentation when substitutions for costly natural materials,...
Image features a wallpaper with a repeating floral bouquet printed on Tyvek. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Scrubbable Flowers, Pre-pasted Even
This delicate floral design by Lanette Scheeline was one of the early wallcoverings printed on Tyvek. The design consists of a fairly small repeat, actually, a single small bouquet of mixed flowers, perhaps wildflowers, repeated two across the width and repeating vertically on the diagonal. The flowers are rendered in a stylized manner, and printed...
Image features a large scale model of the Ricinus communis (also called the castor bean, or castor oil) plant with red stigma rising from a green spiny capsule and long green leaves on a thick green stem, mounted on a black turned-wood base. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Botanical Lessons
This Object of the Day post celebrates the opening of Nature by Design: Botanical Expressions, on view from December 7, 2019-January 10, 2021. In the rapidly changing world of the nineteenth century, the expansion of industrialization was accompanied by an increased interest in science. Alongside major discoveries such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, Mendeleev’s periodic table,...
Image features a circular white plate with a wavy, brown-edged rim surrounding colorful painted decoration of a branch of bocconia/parrot weed (Bocconia frutescens) leaves, various sprigs, a caterpillar, and two winged insects. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Natural History for Dinner
To celebrate the opening of Nature by Design: Botanical Expressions (December 7, 2019-January 10, 2021), Object of the Day this week will feature objects from the exhibition. The creation of what has come to be known as Hans Sloane plates derived from an increased interest in natural history in the eighteenth century, which led to...