Art Deco

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Plymouth Hotel
Posters for Preservation
In 1977 Miami’s South Beach lay in ruins: unkempt and forgotten by time. In less than 50 years, the district had gone from a lively and glamorous area to one that was run down and boarded up. With preservation in mind, a Miami Beach resident and mechanic by the name of Woody Vondracek set out...
Textile, 1934, France, supplementary weft cotton pile (velour), Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund, 2006-6-1
Plush Travel
This modernist velour furnishing fabric designed in 1934 was produced in an area of northern France where weaving centers like Lille, Roubaix, and Tourcoing manufactured fabrics for use on airplanes, trains, and boats. During this era, escalating industrialization facilitated mass transportation, which led to an increased emphasis on travel. This cultural shift not only introduced...
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A Forgotten Architect with Ethereal Solutions
For her first assignment as an architecture student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Mary Ann Crawford was given a sheet of paper, twelve hours, and a problem: design an entrance to an architectural school. Crawford’s submission was well-received by her professor, but he gave her a cautionary warning. “You want to be careful...
1978-146-469-a,b
Cartier Deco Matchsafe
The development of friction matches in the early nineteenth century was a major discovery as it allowed for instantaneous and reliable fire on demand for the first time in history. The design of matchsafes arose as the early friction matches were both highly combustible and unstable. These decorative boxes allowed bulk matches to be protected...
Trade Catalogue. Katalog Nr. 60 [&65].  Art Deco Lighting. Meissen-Glas.  Dresden: Circa, 1930.  Smithsonian Libraries
Uplighting, Deco Style
Two rare Art Deco period catalogues, newly acquired by the CHM library, include illustrations with accompanying specifications and cost for more than 100 glass lighting fixtures manufactured by Meissner Glasraffinerie of Dresden dating circa 1930.  Their factory was located at Coswig on the river Elbe situated between Meissen and Dresden, Germany. Not much is recorded...
3920 Vanity, 1939; Designed by Gilbert Rohde (American, 1894 – 1944); east indian laurel, sequoia burl, oak, acrylic, brass, patinated steel, leather, mirrored glass; H x W x D: 127 × 127 × 43.2 cm (50 × 50 × 17 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2016-5-19-a/d
A Modern Beauty
Whether you call it a dressing table or a vanity, during the 1930s and 1940s this furniture form expressed the glamour and mystique of femininity. A woman sitting at her vanity—preparing to go out or to entertain in her home—connotes the vanity’s cultural associations with beauty, self-image, and preparation. Designed by Gilbert Rohde for Herman...
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A Subtle Scandal
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Cooper Hewitt is dedicating select Object of the Day entries to the work of women designers in our collection. A pioneer of graphic design in New York City, Louise Fili is known for stylized, retro-inspired work that strongly favors Art Deco motifs. Her work is lauded for its creative...
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Pessimistic Optimism
Written by Joseph McPartlin There are many ways you can look at the modern world. Do you take a pessimistic or optimistic view? John Vassos questions his view of modernity in his 1931 illustrated book, Phobia. He uses “optimistic” Art Deco forms to convey twenty-three phobias as a “pessimistic” look into the modern world. John...
1991-59-11
New Metal
It is no coincidence that many of Lurelle Van Arsdale Guild’s 1930’s designs for aluminum tableware reflect his honed knowledge of traditional forms and ornament.  Before becoming one of America’s top industrial designers of the early to mid-twentieth century, Guild was an antique furniture dealer and throughout his entire life, a collector and connoisseur of...