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 shows a wallpaper with interlocked drapery swags and lace border. Please scroll down for additional information on this piece.
Draping the Walls
I wanted to share this unusual trompe l’oeil drapery wallpaper, where a length of fabric swags slightly then twists around another fabric swag, creating a diaper or trellis-like pattern. The fabric is adorned with a lace trim and tassels made of strung pearls. The bottom section of this panel is a wide border that shows...
Image features a magazine cover consisting of a black and white photograph of Howard Stern with three large superimposed red blocks containing slanted white text in Futura Bold forming the phrase, “I hate myself,” with a smaller block below adding, “and you love me for it.” “Esquire” is printed in red along the top of the design. Printed in red blocks, also with Futura Bold slanted white text, upper left: Shocking but True! / HOWARD STERN / BLITZES AMERICA / By Barbara Kruger. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Conceptualizing a Cultural Icon
Known for her bold engagement with popular culture and mass communication, American conceptual artist Barbara Kruger provokes and entices the viewer with her cover design for the May 1992 issue of Esquire. Featuring a close-up, black and white photograph of the controversial shock-jock Howard Stern, the superimposed text obscures significant portions of his face, excluding...
Image features a lamp with a three-tiered shade composed of three stacked glass circles of graduated sizes, all on a simple dark brown metal base consisting of a vertical rod on a circular foot. The lamp is topped by a circular dark metal screw-on cap. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A New Form for a New Technology
Danish architect and designer Poul Henningsen’s interest in light and lighting started at a young age when as a child in the 1900s, he observed the sharp glare from fixtures housing bare electric bulbs in his family home. Electric lighting was new, and older lighting devices, such as candlesticks or gas lamps, were being adapted...
Image features: Long-sleeved, knee-length, reversible coat in needle-punched felt made from recycled sweaters. One side is a dark irregular plaid of blacks and blues, the other a patchwork of blue-tone knit fabrics. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
ReMade
As part of Eileen Fisher’s numerous sustainability efforts, the company committed to taking back used Eileen Fisher garments from its customers. Since 2009, with almost no promotion of the initiative, over 600,000 garments were returned. About 40% are still usable; they are cleaned and repaired in the company’s recycling centers in Irvington, NY and Seattle...
Image features a wallpaper ceiling border containing a water mill and cat tails. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Looking Up to Landscapes
If you’ve ever thought it might be nice to be a fly on the wall, think about the fun you could have with a bird’s eye view from the ceiling. You could be part of the beautiful ceiling decoration that was so fashionable during the Gilded Age. Today’s wallpaper would have been part of that...
This image features monkeys with sheet music, playing instruments and drinking wine. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Monkey Business, French Style
Monkeys have been a symbol in world cultures for thousands of years, representing qualities ranging from fertility, to evil, lust and wisdom. The negative image that the monkey had in Western culture gradually changed in the 17th century when monkeys were used as symbols to satirize human behavior in Flemish genre painting. This visual art...
This poster for the exhibition “Impressions/Expressions: Black American Graphics” bears the title at top, with credit information below. A brightly colored image draws the eye at the center of the poster, a lithograph by the artist Margo Humphrey. A border of purple, red, and orange surrounds an abstracted scene, with a bright blue sky. A large yellow tiger, sketchily drawn, bears its teeth at the bottom of the frame, while a pair of figures float above, in embrace. Surrounding these figures, chili peppers, bananas, moons, and stars seem to rain from above,
First Impressions/Expressions Count
In October of 1979, an exhibition entitled Impressions/Expressions: Black American Graphics opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem. The show, associated with the second annual “Survival of the Black Artist” Fine Arts Festival, later traveled to Howard University—alma mater of the exhibition’s 26 year-old curator, Richard J. Powell.[1] The first survey of its kind, Impressions/Expressions...
Image features tablet computer prototype in the form of a dark gray trapezoidal housing containing a rectangular screen; function buttons along the edges of the housing, and a separate pen-like gray stylus with red top. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Functional Prototype for a Touchscreen Tablet Computer
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....
Image features an IPad data visualization representing a user's music library: at top left, a sun (artists), top right a planet (album), lower left a moon (song), and at lower right a constellation (filter); below these is a row of various celestial bodies. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Planetary, Cooper Hewitt’s First iOS App
This week’s posts feature case studies from Cooper Hewitt’s Digital Collections Management Project, a conservation survey of born-digital and hybrid objects in the permanent collection. The two-year project was coordinated by an in-house team of conservators, curators, and registrar, and was conducted by digital conservation specialist Ben Fino-Radin and his team at Small Data Industries....