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Master of the Chair
Hans J. Wegner was a pioneer in modern Danish design in the 1950s and 1960s. Having designed more than 500 chairs throughout his career, with 100 of them being mass-produced, he has been affectionately known within the design world as the “Master of the Chair”.  His ingenious use of natural materials, in particular his admiration...
1978-146-30
Utility and Marketing: A Matchsafe Made in Heaven
Cooper Hewitt holds a large number of matchsafes: small, metal boxes that emerged around 1830 to house recently invented friction matches. Vital for lighting lanterns, kitchen stoves and smoking accessories, people from all walks of life carried matchsafes, or vesta cases.  The air-tight containers kept matches dry and reduced the risk of spontaneous ignition, a...
1967-45-28
Harlequin Furniture
This cleverly designed library table conceals a nearly six-foot ladder, whose steps may be put up or taken down in mere seconds. It was built after designs published in 1793 by the London cabinet maker Thomas Sheraton, who in turn was inspired by a piece made by Robert Campbell for the private library of Prince...
Book
Living with Memphis
Ettore Sottsass Jr.’s iconic Carlton cabinet—sometimes referred to as a “sideboard” or “room divider”—is one the designer’s most recognizable works. Its anthropomorphic form is thought provoking and yet childishly simple. The Carlton cabinet’s playfulness is asserted in its mix of garish colors, patterns, and mass-market materials—plastic laminate and wood. When Sottsass designed this piece for...
2013-37-1
Pattern Play
Alexander Girard was one of the most prolific interior architects of the twentieth century, one who expressed his enthusiasm for design through his vibrant use of color. Believing that modernism did not equate with the use of drab colors, he incorporated bright hues and bold geometric patterns into his designs. He developed an exciting fabric line for...
1968-6-1
A Chair’s Nerves
A ubiquitous figure in design history, Josef Hoffmann had a career that spanned more than 50 years. The Austrian architect-designer created this chair for the dining room of the Purkersdorf Sanatorium, located just outside Vienna, and built between 1904 and 1906. Hoffmann designed both the sanatorium’s austere exterior and much of its interior. Hoffmann worked...
2008-27-1
The Midas Touch?
Is it possible for a chair to be organic, imaginative, and even a little bit sexy? Perhaps, if it is one of the works by American designer Wendell Castle. Castle’s Triad chair is a piece composed of curvilinear sweeps of gilt fiberglass that make a strangely inviting seat. At the risk of pushing the pun...
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...
2016-5-12
The Modern Chair. Redefined.
The Embryo Chair was designed in 1988 by Australian designer Marc Newson, and has come to be seen as a signature object of his organic style. The chair is not only stylish and provocative in appearance, its one-piece form and simple legs belie a sophisticated construction that is the result of Newson’s technical accomplishment early...