communication

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Fanning Desire?
Folding fans, or abanicos, were considered must-have accessories in nineteenth century Spain. For women, they served as important tools in courtship, the ‘language of the fan’ expressing everything from ‘come hither’ to ‘don’t bother’ to hopeful admirers. The imagery painted or printed on fans also carried important messages. Many celebrate national events, such as the...
Oversized poster for AIGA calling for entries for contest. Poster folds into 16 sections. Computerized photo reproduction of whirlpool (in black and white) and fish (in color) in middle. Imprinted below fish: "Communication Graphics 1993" (in black). Red, yellow and black dots assembled to form human figure at left center with head overlapping image of whirlpool. Square cut out in center of head with digital image of brain. Five other digital images of brain in various perspectives superimposed over figure with accompanying labels. Flow chart at left center: "brain/ reading/ unity/ language/ reasoning/ and/ mathematics" (in black). Imprinted, near top center, in text boxes: "neomammalian/ 200 million years old/ cerebral cortex:/ problem-solving, memorizing, creating/ paleomammalian/ 300 million years old/ limbic:/ emotional feelings guiding behavior/ reptilian/ 500 million years old/ self-preservation, hunting, homing, mating, establishing territory,/ and fighting". Photo reproduction (in black and white) of man and inversed image of same photo above. Two images connected by X's (in green and red lines). Along right edge: "AIGA/ Commun-/ication/ Graphics/ 1993" (in yellow), interspersed with names of various designers (in vertical orientation).
Mind and Body
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. “I believe that all designers come to a task with a unique way of ordering that is particular to their past experiences, and perhaps even their genetic structure,” says maverick...
The People’s Receiver
In the 1930s, the Nazi party relied heavily on propaganda in order to spread its political and social views across Germany under the Third Reich. While this spread of ideas was most infamously carried out using military power, the government was also able to find its way into the homes and heads of the German...
Adinkra Ceremonial Wrapper (Ghana), mid-20th century
Symbol and Meaning
Adinkra wrappers are traditionally worn for funerals. Their many symbols are printed from individually carved stamps, and the selection of symbols and their placement on the gridded cloth are considered a sort of communication from the living to the ancestors. Hundreds of unique symbols have been identified, but their meanings are not easily de-coded. Some...
A Patriotic Chair
What did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, General Knox, and Benjamin Franklin have in common? Windsor chairs. These chairs were first produced in England in the very first years of the 18th century. Although many folk tales surround the origin of the name (including some involving George III caught in a rain storm), it is likely...
Communicate: Instant Photography Before the Internet
When Edwin Land, co-founder of the Polaroid Corporation, introduced the SX-70 instant camera, he could have hardly predicted how forward-thinking his design truly was. The idea of instant photography, something synonymous with today’s smartphone and social media image sharing applications, was more or less an inexact science before 1972, the year that the SX-70 was...
Princess Phone, Henry Dreyfuss
For much of the twentieth century, telephones were standard issue, designed for durability and function rather than consumer appeal. After 1953, color transformed the telephone from a basic technology into an alluring consumer product. AT&T ran ad campaigns encouraging women to see the phone as an element of home decoration. What if new phone models...
Model 500 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
Henry Dreyfuss’s earlier Model 302 was a beautiful sculptural object, but it had usability problems. The triangular profile of the handset caused the device to turn when cradled against the shoulder—the design didn’t account for people’s intuitive desire to talk hands-free. Dreyfuss addressed this issue with the Model 500, introduced in 1949. To create the...
Model 302 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss
In the 1930s, Bell Labs asked Henry Dreyfuss to create a new telephone set, to be used across AT&T’s vast phone system. Dreyfuss was a young man and an emerging voice in the field of industrial design. Designers including Dreyfuss, Raymond Loewy, and Walter Dorwin Teague were reinventing the point of contact between people and...