Image features: Brisé fan with pierced sticks. Moire effect produced by darker brown color swirling through tan color. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Ivory Substitute
This fan is in “good” condition for cellulose nitrate and therefore a rarity. Cellulose nitrate is an early plastic polymer invented in the mid-nineteenth century and derived from cellulose that is treated with nitric acid. The material gradually degrades, releasing nitric acid. This fan documents a time of experimentation when substitutions for costly natural materials,...
Image features a large, mottled-blue irregularly shaped plastic vessel tapering to a narrow neck with a circular mouth. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Big, Blue, and Bioplastic
Designers Rutger de Regt and Marlies van Putten, the principals of Handmade Industrials, are both inspired and concerned by today’s production processes that are increasingly driven by computers. They ask, are we reducing or removing the presence of human experience and experimentation in manufacturing? Are we losing touch with our environment—is it becoming increasingly artificial?...
Two streamlined red chairs against a white background.
Hero to Zero: A History of Plastics
Design scholar Penny Sparke traces the history of plastic since the nineteenth century and through modern design of the twentieth century—and notes how the material became one of the largest challenges facing the world's environment today.
Image features a group five floor lamps in the shape of giant pills, each with a white top and a base in a different color: yellow, white, green, red, and blue. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Popping Pills
Revealing the importance between Pop Art and design, Cesare Casati and Emanuele Ponzio’s Pillola lamps designed in 1968, are representative of Italy’s anti-design movement of the mid-1960s and 1970s. Challenging notions of “good design,” the anti-design movement took its cues from Pop Art’s use of bright colors and banal subject matter. The Pillola lights culturally...
Image features brooch of inverted ovoid form composed of various media and costume jewelry fragments: colorful cast metal fringe-like surround, small red figure of Venus, plastic globes suggesting oranges, colored beads and glass pastes, central metal fleur-de-lys, plastic white pineapples, and glass leaves. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Fruit-topped Hats and Mixed Media Jewelry
In celebration of Women’s History Month, March Object of the Day posts highlight women designers in the collection. The Venus brooch by Judy Onofrio radiates with a splash of color and a sense of humor. Reminiscent of fruit-topped headdresses seen in old movie musicals, the form is decorated with tiny found fragments–plastic beads suggesting oranges,...
Design for a plastic lunchbox with matching insulated bottle. At center, lunchbox shown in open position. Bottom and top are trapezoidal volumes; bottom features divided food storage compartment while lid features a “bottle lock” to keep bottle in place inside lid (lock shown in open position with rectilinear bottle standing nearby at right). This as well as the hinge connection the two sections are living hinges, meaning they consist of one malleable piece of plastic.
It All Hinges on Plastic
If you’ve ever taken a moment to investigate your shampoo bottle, pill organizer, or Tic-Tac box, you may have noticed the thin, flexible piece of plastic connecting these containers to their lids. This often-overlooked component is the living hinge, an innovation that helped boost plastic’s popularity and versatility. In the broadest sense, “plastic” simply denotes...
Image features bowl of inverted cone shape, the thick outer wall of polyester resin in tones of orange, bonded to an inner wall of white porcelain, its inner surface glazed turquoise. Please scroll down the read the blog post about this object.
Dance of Complementary Colors
This bowl sends a colorful optical jolt by balancing complementary hues; the red-orange of the exterior against the turquoise of the interior. The interplay of the warm red-orange and the cool turquoise results in visual excitement as the eye shifts back and forth between the two. Adding to the interplay is the juxtaposition of the two...
Image features button in the form of an open-topped wooden crate containing four pears in tones of yellow to pink, with two narrow green leaves interspersed among them. Pease scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Juicy Pears
In celebration of The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, this Object of the Day post takes a multisensory approach to an object in Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection. Jelly candies in the form of fruit? Toys for children? Miniatures? This whimsical and colorful object is actually a button made of celluloid plastic. In an open-topped crate, a...
Image features telephone comprising wedge-shaped black plastic body, the front with clear circular rotary dial with finger holes and surrounded by white numerals and letters; handset with earpiece at one end and speaker at other, set in cradle at top rear of telephone body; coiled black plastic-covered cord connects handset to body. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Before There Were Ringtones There Were Rings
In celebration of our new exhibition, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, this Object of the Day post explores the multisensory experience of an object in Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection. Today’s blog post was written by Cynthia Trope and originally published on March 7, 2013. If you grew up in America in the mid-1950s – 1980s, you no doubt...