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Object Timeline

2004

  • Work on this object began.

2013

  • We acquired this object.

2014

2017

  • You found it!

Textile, Silver Check, 2004

This is a textile. It was designed by Elizabeth Whelan and made for Humanscale. It is dated 2004 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is 74% polyester, 26% nylon and its technique is plain weave with grouped wefts. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Textile designer Elizabeth Whelan has played a critical role in the development of ergonomic task chair design. Her sleekly beautiful mesh fabrics for Humanscale are integral to the structure and function of the chairs for which they were designed.
Whelan met designer and ergonomics engineer Niels Diffrient in 2002, when she was contracted to design 4-way stretch upholstery fabrics for Humanscale’s Freedom Chair. But Diffrient already had a different kind of ergonomic chair in mind -- one with an upholstered seat and a mesh back -- which would become the Liberty Chair. Being part of the design team from the very beginning made this a different kind of textile design commission: “I had time to learn about what the chair required,” Whelan says. “I could develop a textile to meet those requirements and the demands of production.” In her studio in Manhattan, Whelan experimented on hand looms with a wide variety of yarns and weave structures before settling on a mesh of monofilament and metallic yarns. In the Liberty Chair, the mesh seat back is a 3-panel construction with curved seams -- a solution from the world of tailoring -- to provide a curved surface that conforms to the shape of the back.
Luminesce Mesh was introduced at NeoCon in 2004, where it won the Best of NeoCon Gold, as well as a Design Distinction award from I.D. Magazine the following year. The chair was also exhibited in Cooper-Hewitt’s National Design Triennial, Design Life Now, in 2006, and was acquired by the Museum in 2008.

This object was donated by Elizabeth Whelan. It is credited Gift of Elizabeth Whelan.

Our curators have highlighted 7 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

Its dimensions are

H x W: 293.4 x 135.9 cm (9 ft. 7 1/2 in. x 53 1/2 in.) Repeat H x W: 0.6 x 0.6 cm (1/4 x 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Silver Check, 2004; Designed by Elizabeth Whelan (American, b. 1961); USA; 74% polyester, 26% nylon; H x W: 293.4 x 135.9 cm (9 ft. 7 1/2 in. x 53 1/2 in.) Repeat H x W: 0.6 x 0.6 cm (1/4 x 1/4 in.); Gift of Elizabeth Whelan; 2013-45-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/52027805/ |title=Textile, Silver Check, 2004 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=22 November 2017 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>

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