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2003 National Design Award winner Lella Vignelli passed away December 21, 2016. In honor of her memory, we are sharing an Object of the Day blog post from earlier this year dedicated to her design philosophy. Lella Vignelli has spent a lifetime as a designer examining the ongoing expressions of pure, modern form. Working in...
Egyptomania in Egypt
Throughout the 19th century, Egypt was considered to be nominally a province of the Ottoman Empire, although both France and Britain worked to assert influence and control in the country. Isma’il Pasha was a young man when succeeded his uncle as Khedive (Viceroy) of Egypt in 1863. Isma’il presided over the country as it was...
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...
A Piece of Cake
Covered with Franz von Zülow’s idiosyncratic decoration, this cake serving plate (part of a breakfast set in the Cooper Hewitt’s collection) demonstrates the Viennese artist and designer’s interest in fantasy and fairy tales. Knights on horseback move through a medieval village in the foreground, accompanied by a lively figure blowing a trumpet. The movement of...
Modern Geometry
Who knew geometry could be so beautiful? This 1928 sugar bowl and creamer set epitomizes American modern design; yet, it is clearly influenced by the modern turn of European design from the same period, as evidenced by the Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, 1925, as well as by Walter Gropius’...
Pink oblong oval form with folded, undulating rim.
American Modernizing
Russel Wright’s massively popular American Modern Dinnerware line remained in production for 20 years—from 1939 to 1959—but that was only after Wright spent two years prodding reluctant manufacturers to mass-produce his unconventional ceramics. The line was a departure from everything that design, and tableware in particular, represented in prior years. Instead of restrained and formal,...
Straight-sided, tapering circular cup (a) with glazed decoration consisting of series of narrow black vertical wedges on white ground; black along edge of rim; white loop handle and white interior. Circular saucer (b) with upraised rim and same tapering black decoration on white ground; black at rim; white underside.
Embracing Design’s Wild Side
In calculated contrast, sharp black wedges streak mathematically across a white ground. The black and white stripes that line Eugen Trost’s Zebra cup and saucer accentuate its tapered, circular form just as cleanly as they denote the wild zebra, from which it takes its name. These stripes, however, are hand painted. The Gefle Porcelinsfabrik in...
Design for an ewer featuring foliate scrolls and miniature nymphs
An Extravagant Ewer: Jean-Charles Delafosse’s Greek Style
This is a design for an ewer by the Parisian architect, designer, decorator and print maker, Jean-Charles Delafosse (1734-91). Delafosse engaged in diverse artistic productions producing urban planning proposals, architectural plans, furniture designs as well as drawings of ruin capriccios and allegorical and ornamental prints. His designs were widely circulated across France, England, and Germany...
Print showing two elaborate tureens on either side of a rococo centerpiece
Surf & Turf: A Silver Tureen for a Duke
Eighteenth-century meal services were elaborate affairs, as exemplified in this print showing tureens and a table center piece designed by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier for Evelyn Pierrepont, Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull in the 1730s. Meissonnier worked for Louis XV, becoming  orfèvre du roi (goldsmith to the king) in 1724. This engraving is plate 115 in folio 72 of...