With more than 250,000 works, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has one of the most comprehensive collections of design objects in the United States. Through our collection, we explore the continuum of design historically up to the present day. We continue to expand the scope and quality of the collection through new acquisitions and, in the past three years, have made a priority of enhancing our twentieth-century and contemporary collection while complementing our holdings from earlier periods. The works in this gallery represent a small selection of the objects acquired, highlighting twentieth- and twenty-first-century additions to each of the four curatorial departments: Product Design and Decorative Arts; Textiles; Wallcoverings; and Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design. These diverse objects show the Museum’s commitment to workmanship and handcraft as well as industrial processes. In keeping with the ideals of the Museum’s founders, the Hewitt sisters, we continue to seek out works of enduring beauty and virtuosity while updating their vision with a new focus on design process and innovation in technology and materials.
Pesce’s playful chair embodies diversity within standardization. The liquid resin is poured and hardened into the furniture’s components, which later are assembled with pegs. Following simple guidelines, the maker pours pigmented resin into a mold to achieve a random quantity and mix of colors.
Karasz developed designs by beginning with a form and appending new elements. Here, a conical object is altered by the addition of four triangular planes forming a cross at the base. Karasz utilized these simple geometric components for a variety of objects characterized by planes and smooth surfaces.
Cohen’s design responds to an idiosyncratic triangular site. Each floor has a unique plan, with the whole unified by a vertically twisting atrium containing the circulation core (stairs and ramps), which allows light to fall through the building and highlight the complex warped geometric volumes.
Karasz’s “essay” on geometric form develops the triangle into a family of 18 tabletop objects. Although depicted as a series of flat planes, the objects were meant to be fabricated with conical bodies on X-shaped bases. The group includes vases, candlesticks, covered and uncovered bowls, sugar bowls, creamers, teapots, and coffeepots.
This drawing documents Karasz’s exploration of early modern forms in her initial concepts for electroplated nickel silver tableware. An array of rounded and conical shapes, Karasz’s designs are likely inspired by the metalwork of Bauhaus designer Marianne Brandt. Her designs for teapots similarly incorporate ebony in the handle and lid.
In this famous poster by Swiss master Matter, the size of the woman’s hand creates a shift in depth, pushing forward from her face. The gloved hand blocks half of her face, emphasizing her visible eye as a point of visual focus and emotional contact with the viewer.
Frankl, the Austrian-born designer of this desk, wrote in 1930, "The horizontal line is expressive of the style of today." Frankl used strong horizontals here to evoke the sleekness of the fashionable streamlined style and to accent the geometry of the desk's construction. Blue-lacquered surfaces punctuated by red knobs enliven the desk's typical association with utility.
A functionalist, Herbst created this chair using tubular steel and sandows, bungee-like elastic cords, an early instance of adaptive reuse of industrial materials in design.
Brown is best known for her bold geometric designs of the 1960s and 1970s, most created for Heal Fabrics, an important producer of avant-garde designs. Her distinctive style pioneered the fashion for architectural-scale patterns, including 3D and op-art effects.
While sketching concepts for the poster, Bierut saw that “light” and “years” are both five-letter words, so he decided to run the two words through each other. The layers of text have been digitally manipulated to resemble projected light.