Everything That Glitters is Not Gold
This week’s entries are dedicated to objects featured in the exhibition Thom Browne Selects, currently on view at Cooper Hewitt through October 23, 2016. Jim Dine’s impressive career started not long after he had graduated from Ohio University with a BFA in 1957. After making the move to New York in 1959, Dine collaborated with...
Design Within Reach
The Cooper Hewitt’s American Chatelaine (ca. 1860) may seem like a completely foreign object at first glance but upon further study, it is more familiar than it might seem. If we look at the history of chatelaines we see that they are part of an archetype of tools to carry on one’s person that is...
Handkerchief, early 19th century, France
A Loom[ing] Controversy
In the center of his handkerchief is a portrait of Marie Louis Jacquard (1752-1834), inventor of the jacquard loom. Patented in 1804, the loom included a punch-card mechanism for controlling the action of the warp, greatly simplifying the production of complex fabrics and revolutionizing the French silk industry, symbolized by the caterpillars and cocoons nestled...
Getting a Grip on User-Inspired Design
Peeling potatoes is tedious enough without having to do battle with ill-designed kitchen gadgets. Why hadn’t these objects evolved to accommodate users, rather than the other way around? Sam Farber found himself wondering just that when he noticed his wife Betsey, who suffered from arthritis in her hands, struggling to use an old-fashioned peeler. Farber...
Iron, Meet Glass
The postwar design era focused largely on improving all aspects of life at home for those who had maintained it during the war and those who were just returning. The remodeled electric iron was one among many postwar innovations, but this Silver Streak iron in particular epitomizes the design period. The Silver Streak’s aerodynamic form...
Big and Bigger: Designing for Scale
Cooper Hewitt curator Matilda McQuaid moderates a panel discussion about the role tools play in large-scale projects. Panelists including Paul Ceruzzi of the National Air & Space Museum, William Goodrich of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Chuck Hoberman, artist, engineer, and inventor of folding and transforming structures, provide insight into how we use powerful tools...
Highlights from Solar Wall
The Solar Wall is featured in Tools: Extending Our Reach, on view from 12.12.2014 to 5.25.2015. Video display of the Sun’s surface from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO); Satellite launch date: February 11, 2010. Courtesy of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
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...