Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/1159161439/

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

Design has had an enduring impact on the rituals and customs of dining. The centerpiece for Tablescapes: Designs for Dining, which explores three distinct dining moments, is Cooper Hewitt's magnificent surtout de table. On view for the first time in 30 years, this newly conserved masterpiece, designed by Pierre-Philippe Thomire for the stepson of Napoleon Bonaparte, Eugène de Beauharnais, exemplifies how dining at the highest levels of wealth and power in early 19th-century France was a theatrical performance, bringing architecture to the tabletop in an elaborate arrangement of vessels for food. In the ensuing century, design for dining pivoted to embrace the casual lifestyle that emerged with mass production and the rising middle class. Emerging technologies, decreasing resources, and changing lifestyles will influence the design for dining in the future. To represent these shifts, the surtout de table is accompanied by an installation of table linene from the 1930s designed by American textile designer Marguerita Mergentime, who blended bold colors, typography, and a fascination with American culture and history into her festive designs. And to suggest future directions for dining design, 2017 National Design Award winners Joe Doucet and Mary Ping were commissioned to envision a dining environment to come, one that is adaptable to the needs of a rapidly changning world.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18109725/

  • pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, graphite, on off-white laid paper

This drawing shows that the architect Barberi, who produced the surtout de table design shown across the room, also designed for Eugène de Beauharnais, possibly when Eugène was viceroy of Italy and the likely owner of the surtout de table in the center of the gallery. Both show strong classical references.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18114187/

  • pen and black ink, brush and watercolor, gouache, graphite on off-white wove paper

The colorful hardstone vessels seen in this surtout de table design suggest a Russian source, but the use of circular stands and rimmed gilt-metal are stylistically similar to Italian and French examples. Much as Bernini made his table designs to resemble sculpture-laden piazzas, so too did later Italian designers of tablescapes include key forms arranged as if in a public space.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18141235/

  • stamped, cast and chased gilt-bronze
  • Gift of Jacob H. Schiff

The makers of gilt bronze created furniture mounts whose motifs and figures often duplicated those found on table decorations and the gilt wood architectural decoration of the room. The primary function of such mounts was to enhance the piece of furniture and to reflect light from windows, mirrors, and candles to enliven interiors.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18141313/

  • stamped,cast and chased gilt bronze
  • Gift of Jacob H. Schiff

The makers of gilt bronze created furniture mounts whose motifs and figures often duplicated those found on table decorations and the gilt wood architectural decoration of the room. The primary function of such mounts was to enhance the piece of furniture and to reflect light from windows, mirrors, and candles to enliven interiors.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18142947/

  • stamped, cast and chased gilt bronze
  • Gift of Jacob H. Schiff

The makers of gilt bronze created furniture mounts whose motifs and figures often duplicated those found on table decorations and the gilt wood architectural decoration of the room. The primary function of such mounts was to enhance the piece of furniture and to reflect light from windows, mirrors, and candles to enliven interiors.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18159525/

  • pen and ink, brush and wash, on paper

Endowed with a mix of classical motifs such as swags and caryatids, this candelabrum shows the more lavish style of ornamentation of lighting fixtures that dominated in the Louis XVI era, before Napoleon.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18166971/

  • stamped, cast, and chased gilt bronze
  • Purchased for the Museum by the Advisory Council
  • decoration
  • interior decoration
  • putti
  • neoclassical
  • birds
  • foliage
  • protection
  • Mercury

The makers of gilt bronze created furniture mounts whose motifs and figures often duplicated those found on table decorations and the gilt wood architectural decoration of the room. The primary function of such mounts was to enhance the piece of furniture and to reflect light from windows, mirrors, and candles to enliven interiors.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18170069/

  • graphite, pen and black, brown ink, black crayon on cream paper
  • Purchased for the Museum by the Advisory Council

The urn form, anthemia decoration, and heraldic birds in this drawing show the strong identification of the new French republic with the classical era.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18264481/

  • etching on cream wove paper

The fact that a pre-eminent architect of the royalist era was able to survive in Napoleonic France is visible in Josephine’s choice of Charles Percier to create table articles, such as this tureen design, as well as the interiors of her residence, Malmaison.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18312433/

  • glazed and gilded porcelain with polychrome overglaze decoration
  • France
  • French Revolution
  • decor
  • porcelain
  • cooler

The lion has long been a symbol of royalty, stateliness, and opulence, and as depicted on this cooler echoes the extravagance that was associated with meals of the nobility during the late 18th century. Coolers often held ice cream, a luxury food prior to modern refrigeration methods, that was novel and fashionable in late-18th-century France.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18319413/

  • block printed on handmade paper
  • Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt

This frieze or dado paper was made to appear like gilt-bronze appliqués to the wall. A similar frieze at the top of the wall is visible in the interior watercolor by Rumeau nearby. It illustrates the choice of similar motifs for interior decoration and the objects in these interiors.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18326071/

  • Manufactured by Lefebvre Manufactory, Tournai
  • brush and yellow, red, green, black watercolor, pen and black ink, on cream laid paper

The swan motif on this andiron design shows a connection to the favored motifs of the French Empire and their impact outside Paris. It also shows classically formed urns, a pitcher, and perfume burner—objects more typically associated with the table—as part of the design.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18328807/

  • brush and watercolor, pen and black ink, on cream laid paper

Although created away from the stylistic center of Paris, this design from Belgium is very close to the large candelabra seen nearby, featuring both patinated and gilt bronze classical female figures. The Lefebvre Manufactory of gilt and engraved bronze was highly regarded throughout Europe.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18328833/

  • Designed by Unknown
  • Manufactured by Lefebvre Manufactory, Tournai
  • pen and black ink, brush and green, yellow, and brown wash, black chalk on white laid paper

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18337099/

  • carved and joined mahogany-veneered wood, tapestry (seat, back)
  • Gift of Eleanor and Sarah Hewitt
  • furniture
  • seating
  • medallions
  • chairs
  • curved
  • monogram
  • needlework
  • wood
  • embroidery

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18340339/

  • enameled, gilt and glazed hard-paste porcelain
  • Gift of George B. and Georgiana L. McClellan
  • interior
  • decoration
  • domestic
  • home
  • landscape
  • borders
  • display
  • dining
  • factory
  • interior design
  • tableware
  • concentric
  • stars
  • buildings

The scientific advances made by Sèvres in the early 19th century were mainly due to the extensive and scientific interests of artistic and general director Alexandre Brongniart, who encouraged high-temperature firing that created hard-paste porcelain with new colors. Thus, the factory itself and the technical skills used to make plates such as this were celebrated as much as their tabletop function.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18356509/

  • black chalk on paper

The tablescape is a concept developed in the late-16th and 17th-century Italian states and soon followed in France. The 18th century French tablescapes favored an arrangement of tureens and other food vessels in patterns like garden parterres. Guiseppe Barberi chose the classical columns and elements favored in the Napoleonic era.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18406837/

  • fire-gilt bronze, blackened bronze, enameled metal (dial), blued steel (hands), glass
  • windows
  • interior
  • figures
  • domestic
  • ornament
  • putti
  • home
  • neoclassical
  • arches
  • upper class
  • classical
  • drapery
  • timekeeping
  • griffins
  • activity
  • leisure
  • klismos
  • time
  • drapes
  • pianos
  • stage

This object is a rare and possibly unique example of a small group of clocks showing a piano by Ravrio, a famous clockmaker. This clock is said to represent Empress Josephine seated at the newly fashionable piano at her recently decorated residence, Malmaison. Her influence on her son, Eugène de Beauharnais, in the decorative styles he favored seems clear from looking at this clock and the surtout de table.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18464653/

  • carved, gessoed and gilt pine, mirrored glass
  • Bequest of Mary Hayward Weir
  • rococo
  • leaves
  • wall
  • chinoiserie
  • decor
  • asymmetrical

While not of the period of the surtout de table, this pier mirror was designed to reflect the light from both the windows it hung between and the candlelight from candelabra on banquet table tops.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18476665/

  • block printed and flocked on handmade paper

With swans and lyres, this border, which might have been used at chair rail height, could have continued the motifs of the borders of a surtout de table found within the same room.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18542829/

  • pen and ink, brush and watercolor on paper
  • Museum purchase through gift of various donors and from Eleanor G. Hewitt Fund

This drawing shows ruins, such as the amphitheater, basilica, and classical statuary from Pompeii, and other classical motifs. Arranged like the Circus Maximus in Rome, the design is an indication of the great debt that neo-classicism owed to the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy during the 18th century. It may have been intended as a tabletop of Pompeiian models made by architects aimed at a northern tourist on the Grand Tour, who would want to collect architectural models of ancient ruins.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18546755/

  • Designed by Pietro Belli
  • pen and brown ink, brush and gray and pale yellow watercolor over graphite on light green paper

Like other architects of this period, Belli created a wealth of designs for the tabletop, going beyond the centerpiece seen here, to include serving and other flatware pieces with the clean lines of early neo-classicism.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18636423/

  • cast and gilt bronze with hand engraving, cut glass, silvered-mirrored glass
  • figures
  • royalty
  • royal court
  • pedestals
  • ornate
  • Napoleon
  • candelabra
  • empire
  • bowls

Stated to have been a present from Napoleon to his stepson Eugène de Beauharnais, possibly at the time of the latter’s wedding, a surtout de table by Thomire appears in the inventory of Eugène’s possessions he shipped to Munich after the fall of Napoleon. Thomire produced this large, complex work meant to dazzle with reflected light and candlelight while including classical references that would have been recognized by the important heads of state. The motifs including swans—popular with Eugène’s mother, Josephine—appear in Eugène’s house called the Hôtel Beauharnais, suggesting the surtout de table might have been intended for use there. It undoubtedly accompanied Eugène when Napoleon appointed him viceroy of Italy.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18647689/

  • Designed by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot
  • cut and engraved leaded glass, cast, raised and chased gilt silver
  • Gift of Sarane H. Ross in memory of her parents, Catherine B. and Charles V. Hickox
  • interior
  • domestic
  • neoclassical
  • flowers
  • dining
  • silver
  • feet
  • diamond trellis

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18668963/

  • gilt and patinated bronze
  • Gift of Annie-May Hegeman

Produced by Thomire, the creator of Cooper Hewitt’s surtout de table, these candelabra exemplify the bronze-maker’s degree of involvement in the design of the whole room and the need for the light produced by expensive and numerous candles. Like architect Charles Percier, Thomire survived from the royal era by rebranding himself with designs favored by Napoleon and Josephine and by maintaining high standards of craftsmanship.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18668965/

  • gilt and patinated bronze
  • Gift of Annie-May Hegeman

Produced by Thomire, the creator of Cooper Hewitt’s surtout de table, these candelabra exemplify the bronze-maker’s degree of involvement in the design of the whole room and the need for the light produced by expensive and numerous candles. Like architect Charles Percier, Thomire survived from the royal era by rebranding himself with designs favored by Napoleon and Josephine and by maintaining high standards of craftsmanship.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18711411/

  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18794675/

  • pen and black ink, brush and watercolor, gouache, varnish, graphite on off-white paper
  • architects
  • artists
  • interior
  • figures
  • design
  • drapery
  • chandeliers
  • bouquets
  • bathrooms
  • boudoirs
  • mirrors

This interior shows the use of a gilded frieze with motifs of urns, anthemia, and other neo-classical ornament that looks much like the frieze of the surtout de table featured in the center of the gallery. The swans above the frieze, a favorite motif of Empress Josephine, are also seen on the surtout de table.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797685/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain
  • interior
  • decoration
  • home
  • butterflies
  • borders
  • dining
  • birds
  • shells
  • concentric
  • geometric

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797687/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain
  • butterflies
  • dining
  • birds
  • repetition
  • tableware
  • serve

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797689/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain
  • interior
  • decoration
  • ceramics
  • container
  • domestic
  • butterflies
  • neoclassical
  • dining
  • animals
  • drinking
  • enamel
  • gilt
  • roundel
  • birds
  • tableware
  • shells
  • geometric
  • serve

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797691/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797693/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797695/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797697/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain
  • butterflies
  • dining
  • roundel
  • fruit
  • decorative
  • tableware
  • shells

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18797699/

  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • enameled and gilt hard paste porcelain

This service shows the fascination with precise renderings from nature featured in Pierre-Joseph Redouté’s and other artists’ botanical studies and Sèvres porcelain during the early 19th century. Not all porcelain was made for entertaining large numbers of people—an intimate tête-à-tête with someone grand could require a small service such as this.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793326/

  • linen
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793332/

  • linen

The titles for these tablecloths were taken from American writer Gertrude Stein’s libretto for Four Saints in Three Acts with music composed by Virgil Thomson. Entirely cast with African-American performers, the opera was an artistic phenomenon. Mergentime very likely attended the premiere at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1934—the same year that these tablecloths were designed. The napkins could be folded in multiple ways to show off the different permutations within one pattern. The tablecloths, sold at B. Altman & Co. and Gimbels, received an honorable mention at the 1934 Industrial Arts Exposition sponsored by National Alliance of Art and Industry held at Rockefeller Plaza.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793334/

  • linen

The titles for these tablecloths were taken from American writer Gertrude Stein’s libretto for Four Saints in Three Acts with music composed by Virgil Thomson. Entirely cast with African-American performers, the opera was an artistic phenomenon. Mergentime very likely attended the premiere at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1934—the same year that these tablecloths were designed. The napkins could be folded in multiple ways to show off the different permutations within one pattern. The tablecloths, sold at B. Altman & Co. and Gimbels, received an honorable mention at the 1934 Industrial Arts Exposition sponsored by National Alliance of Art and Industry held at Rockefeller Plaza.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793336/

  • linen

Mergentime designed napkins to coordinate with specific tablecloths. Spencerian Alphabet napkins were used with all tablecloths that referenced steel pen drawings in her Folk Art series. God Bless Our Home mat sets were taken from a Currier and Ives lithograph and had their own set of napkins.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793337/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

These two tablecloths encapsulate the range of designs by Mergentime: from bold, asymmetrical stripes that evoke a nautical theme to delicately outlined leaves meant to provoke a guessing-game among diners to identify the tree species.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793338/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

This tablecloth came in a variety of colors: sky blue, deep pink, coral, and turquoise with white stars, again showing Mergentime’s love for a vibrant and elegant table.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793340/

  • linen

American folk art was particularly popular during the 1930s, and Mergentime was a collector and incorporated various motifs from patchwork quilts, painted chests, stenciled borders, and calligraphic lines into her textiles. This collection was designed exclusively for Lord & Taylor.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793341/

  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

One of the sections featured in this magazine discussed the Pennsylvania Dutch influence with descriptions of how designers, like Mergentime, were inspired by some of these early American motifs, such as hearts, scrolled letters, and angels.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793342/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

These “talking” tablecloths reveal Mergentime’s strength as a graphic designer in her creative use of typography and careful composition of text in its relationship to the table and diner. Her textiles were expressive, capturing the essence of a word or phrase through a signature or typeface. In Food Quiz, questions with their answers were jumbled, leaving it up to the diners 1939to make the correct matches (answers were highlighted). Food for Thought, produced for Lord & Taylor, was a true test for American history buffs with answers contained in an accompanying booklet.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793343/

  • linen

Mergentime designed napkins to coordinate with specific tablecloths. Spencerian Alphabet napkins were used with all tablecloths that referenced steel pen drawings in her Folk Art series. God Bless Our Home mat sets were taken from a Currier and Ives lithograph and had their own set of napkins.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793345/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

These “talking” tablecloths reveal Mergentime’s strength as a graphic designer in her creative use of typography and careful composition of text in its relationship to the table and diner. Her textiles were expressive, capturing the essence of a word or phrase through a signature or typeface. In Food Quiz, questions with their answers were jumbled, leaving it up to the diners 1939to make the correct matches (answers were highlighted). Food for Thought, produced for Lord & Taylor, was a true test for American history buffs with answers contained in an accompanying booklet.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793347/

  • printed paper
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

Ninety-eight political slogans appear on the tablecloth, Food for Thought, in the center of this gallery. Covering a vast amount of American history, Mergentime conveniently provided the derivation and meaning of these acronyms and phrases in a booklet that accompanied each tablecloth. One article said the booklet was “to settle the inevitable argument caused by eating off this cloth.”

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793348/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

These “talking” tablecloths reveal Mergentime’s strength as a graphic designer in her creative use of typography and careful composition of text in its relationship to the table and diner. Her textiles were expressive, capturing the essence of a word or phrase through a signature or typeface. In Food Quiz, questions with their answers were jumbled, leaving it up to the diners 1939to make the correct matches (answers were highlighted). Food for Thought, produced for Lord & Taylor, was a true test for American history buffs with answers contained in an accompanying booklet. This tablecloth was part of a display of Mergentime’s linens and table settings at Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia during the 1940 Convention of the National Republican Party. She spoke at the store on June 26, 1940.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793350/

  • linen (six napkins), cotton (2 napkins- graphology, tea leaves)

Mergentime used an assortment of serif and sans serif fonts for these fortune-telling cocktail napkins, which must have sparked conversation and possibly even predictions for the future amongst guests.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793358/

  • cotton
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

With a palette of mostly primary colors for this souvenir tablecloth, Mergentime creates a vivid calligraphic map of buildings and monuments in the Corona Park fairgrounds and New York City. It was sold exclusively at B. Altman & Co.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793370/

  • linen
  • Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles B. Mergentime 43.70.19

Mergentime’s fascination with Americana is seen in this tablecloth dotted with collectibles, such as a Windsor-like chair, grandfather clock, spinning wheel, and a “God Bless our Home” plaque. As with several of her tablecloths, Mergentime liked to test dinner guests’ knowledge on a variety of subjects including the antiques on this textile.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793372/

  • wool and cellulose diacetate blend, cotton
  • Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles B. Mergentime 43.70.38

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793690/

  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

Mergentime’s work was included in many newspapers and magazines across the United States, and she was one of the few women featured in Architectural Forum Design Decade. In the magazine’s Home section were her designs for glass cookware and tableware, photos of a Spencerian horse plate, and table mats with matching napkins. Although her sleek and modern Central Park West apartment by avant-garde designer, Frederick Kiesler, was not featured among the other modernist interiors, the sideboard he designed for her apartment appeared prominently in the magazine.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793691/

  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793724/

Included in Mergentime’s personal collection of American folk art was a mid-19th-century ink drawing of a horse, which she used extensively in the textiles and plates that were part of her 1939 Folk Art series. She signed this collection “edited by Marguerita Mergentime” to give credit to the unknown artisans who created these motifs. The cat plates were displayed at the Metropolitan Museum Contemporary American Industrial Art exhibition in 1940, and the horse plates were shown at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as part of the America at Home exhibition.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793726/

  • linen

American folk art was particularly popular during the 1930s, and Mergentime was a collector and incorporated various motifs from patchwork quilts, painted chests, stenciled borders, and calligraphic lines into her textiles. This collection was designed exclusively for Lord & Taylor.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793727/

  • linen
  • Courtesy of Mergentime Family Archive

Mergentime designed napkins to coordinate with specific tablecloths. Spencerian Alphabet napkins were used with all tablecloths that referenced steel pen drawings in her Folk Art series. God Bless Our Home mat sets were taken from a Currier and Ives lithograph and had their own set of napkins.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793728/

  • printed paper, cardboard
  • Smithsonian Libraries

In the catalog for the exposition, Mergentime’s Americana is in the upper right corner of page 97 for the section on Modern Textiles (caption information is on page 98). In the introduction to the section, textile designer Dorothy Liebes writes that the purpose of this collection was to show “the remarkable technical and aesthetic achievement in textiles . . . the stress is rather more on the hand techniques, which in turn inspires and suggests future possibilities for the machine.”

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318793729/

  • printed paper, cardboard
  • Smithsonian Libraries

In the catalog for the exposition, Mergentime’s Americana is in the upper right corner of page 97 for the section on Modern Textiles (caption information is on page 98). In the introduction to the section, textile designer Dorothy Liebes writes that the purpose of this collection was to show “the remarkable technical and aesthetic achievement in textiles . . . the stress is rather more on the hand techniques, which in turn inspires and suggests future possibilities for the machine.”

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318795242/

  • recycled beverage carton composite panels (rewall), resin-infused paper composite panel
  • Courtesy of Mary Ping

A circular process, evident in both the design’s form and material reuse, is the focus for the table and seating. The terrazzo-like compressed surface is thoughtfully made of discarded food packaging, giving new life to waste. The shapes tessellate for efficiency, and the configuration spins from a central axis to accommodate either small or large gatherings.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318795244/

  • water-repellent cotton

As an homage to the impact of Marguerita Mergentime’s textiles, the napkins are designed to reveal important phrases once unfolded—a memento to carry on the conversation after the dinner table. The water-repellent cotton is fully manufactured from seed to final product by PYE, a global innovator in the textile industry.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318795247/

  • 3d-printed polymer

These multi-functional vessels are designed to cook, serve, and store food, eliminating the water waste that occurs in cleaning different vessels at each stage. The raised patterns serve to both distribute heat in the cooking process and to quickly dissipate it while serving.

Tablescapes: Designs for Dining

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318795249/

  • 3d-printed polymer

The Universal Cutlery set is designed to accommodate an ever-expanding internationalization of cuisine. 3D printing allows the utensils to be customized by size, to address different age groups, and to mirror the design for left-handed people.