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Saturn Punch Service Punch Bowl, Cups, Trays

This is a punch bowl, cups, trays. It was designed by Russel Wright and manufactured by Wright Accessories. It is dated ca. 1935. Its medium is aluminum, walnut. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Radically changing American domestic design, Russel Wright’s design career took off in 1930 when he established his own workshop in New York City. At this time he began working with aluminum, beginning with small animals hand-cut from aluminum sheets that were then sold in specialty shops. This was an outgrowth of his experience working in theatre set and costume design, where Wright did a lot of designs for stage props. Additionally, around 1930, he began designing household objects for retail, producing a line of barware accessories in spun pewter. The success of this line led him to continue experimenting with pewter and then chromium-plated steel but the manufacturing costs of both materials were too high for him to continue, and he soon began using spun aluminum as an alternative. Its low-manufacturing cost combined with its ability to emulate the look of pewter, allowed Wright to fashion multiple shapes and forms for the 1930's domestic interior. His line of informal serving accessories uses an array of spherical and conical forms which are a by-product of the spinning process. Design historian Penny Sparke has described Wright’s use of aluminum as having “played a key role in transforming the aluminum object into a an icon of modernity, an accepted domestic object that was closely integrated with feminine culture but, at the same time, manifested an uncompromising modern aesthetic.” [1] Both Wright and consumers embraced his modern spherical forms because of their simplicity, price, and Wright’s emphasis on informal entertaining. Wright also pioneered many of the marketing strategies behind his informal serving accessories, which contributed to their success. The punch and cocktail sets are iconic pieces of his spun aluminum series. Their spherical forms conjure up images of progress and modernity, while representing an early and important part of Wright’s design career.
[1] Lindsay Stamm Shapiro, Russel Wright Creating American Lifestyle (New York, NY: H.N. Abrams, 2001), 27.

This object was donated by George R. Kravis II. It is credited Gift of George R. Kravis II.

  • Lamp (USA)
  • aluminum, wood.
  • Gift of John P. Axelrod.
  • 1989-67-1-a/c

Our curators have highlighted 6 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Object ID #907214299
  • silver plate, wood.
  • Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of M.H. Lobel and C.H. Lobel,....
  • 66.2016.4a/d
  • Saturn Disc Base
  • zinc, aluminum, moulded abs plastic, rubber.
  • Gift of Arango Design Foundation.
  • 1994-31-49-a,b

Its dimensions are

H x diam. (Punch bowl and lid together): 30.5 cm (12 in.) H x W (Cup tray): 1.3 × 41.9 cm (1/2 × 16 1/2 in.) H x W x D (Cup): 5.5 × 10.5 × 8 cm (2 3/16 × 4 1/8 × 3 1/8 in.) H x W x D (Ladle): 9 × 30.5 × 9 cm (3 9/16 in. × 12 in. × 3 9/16 in.)

It has the following markings

"RUSSEL WRIGHT" in foot of cup

Cite this object as

Saturn Punch Service Punch Bowl, Cups, Trays; Designed by Russel Wright ((American, 1904–1976)); Manufactured by Wright Accessories; aluminum, walnut; H x diam. (Punch bowl and lid together): 30.5 cm (12 in.) H x W (Cup tray): 1.3 × 41.9 cm (1/2 × 16 1/2 in.) H x W x D (Cup): 5.5 × 10.5 × 8 cm (2 3/16 × 4 1/8 × 3 1/8 in.) H x W x D (Ladle): 9 × 30.5 × 9 cm (3 9/16 in. × 12 in. × 3 9/16 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-50-1/29

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Saturn Punch Service Punch Bowl, Cups, Trays |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=7 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>