exhibitions

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Calvin S. Hathaway: Museum Director and War Hero
In last month’s Cooper Hewitt Short Story, the exuberant personality of Robert Winthrop Chanler unfolded in a large gift of illustrated books to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library. May’s Short Story celebrates the curatorial vision that brought a professional edge to the Cooper Union Museum for the Arts of Decoration, that of Calvin Hathaway. Margery...
From Neoclassical to Art Moderne
In 1977, in honor of the bicentennial celebrations of a year previous, Cooper Hewitt mounted an exhibition entitled 200 Years of American Architectural Drawing (see more on the exhibition in a special feature on the Architectural League’s website). Curated by David Gebhard and Deborah Nevins, the show and its accompanying publication featured a range of...
Make: A Portrait in Sand
The SketchBot interface is composed of a series of 21st-century tools, including a digital camera, computer software, and a robot. But it also makes use of a natural material older than mankind itself: sand. The sand is incorporated into a multistep process that results in a portrait that can be wiped away to make way...
Observe: An Inspired and Empowering Hearing Device
How can you make a hearing aid both elegant and functional at the same time? Stuart Karten Design introduced the Zon as a way to combat the stigma that is usually associated with the traditional beige shrimp-shaped hearing aids. Often associated with age, weakness or even disability, many individuals with hearing impairments wait as long...
Survive: A High-Performance Prosthetic
The Flex-Foot Cheetah incorporates untraditional materials to solve a design problem that had vexed the medical field for years: finding a prosthetic solution that allows the user to live a normal, active lifestyle. Van Phillips lost his leg below the knee at the age of 21. Unsatisfied with the prosthetics then available to him, he...
Toolbox: Sleek and Sophisticated Meets Portable All-in-One
Toolboxes come in all shapes and sizes. They offer a resting place for the mechanic’s hand tools and a protective environment for the chef’s knives. Yet such toolboxes serve a select audience. In the 21st-century, the computer is the universal toolbox, used by billions of people across the globe. Early computers, including Bill Moggridge’s influential GRiD Compass...
Measure: Behind Enemy Lines
“Escape and Evasion” maps were given to airmen during World War II to avoid capture behind enemy lines. Such maps were one of many in the military man’s arsenal, but in some respects this navigational tool represents one of the most significant products of war-era ingenuity. This Pacific Ocean “drift map,” scaled at 1:4,000,000, illustrates...
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...
Work: The 122-year-old Multi-tool
On the outside, little about the 122-year-old Swiss Army knife has changed. But on the inside, the Victorinox@work has been updated with the 21st-century user in mind, performing not only utilitarian cutting tasks but also serving as a USB digital storage device. The diminutive tool, wrapped in its signature red case, redefines work for a...