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Spotlight: “Making Design” at The New Cooper Hewitt

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To celebrate its renovation and reopening in the incredible Andrew Carnegie Mansion, New York’s Cooper Hewitt—Smithsonian Design Museum is showcasing a selection of its collection of 210,000 furniture and decorative objects from all over the world and spanning 30 centuries—with a new exhibit, “Making Design”, on exhibit now and, according to the Cooper Hewitt, “until it’s not.”

The History of Mirror: Through A Glass, Darkly

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The mirror has been in existence almost as long as humankind. By legend, the first mirror was formed in the ancient Himalayas when a little brook tarried to rest itself, as if to ponder and reflect upon its course. Thereby, in time, the first woman walked and looking down into the pool was surprised by­—another girl!—which she slowly came to understand as a reflection of herself.

Eileen Gray’s Bibendum: A Modern but Feminine Chair

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Eileen Gray is a name closely tied to women’s dignified entrance into the male-dominated design world. Born in 1878, Eileen Gray was the youngest of five children of a wealthy Scots–Irish family. This privileged background allowed her to travel frequently and to attend prestigious private art schools in London and Paris. Nevertheless, because she was a woman, not even her advantageous upbringing and notable life experiences granted her access to important professional networks.

Duncan Phyfe and Fine Furniture

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Duncan Phyfe, cabinetmaker, designed furniture just about 200 years ago. Yet his name, more than that of any other furniture maker in our history, embodies fine craftsmanship—fine American craftsmanship. His name has been whispered reverentially in art museums for decades, alongside the creators of the finest oil paintings and best porcelains. His is a legacy and a “brand” that tastemakers today would die for.

The Dichotomies of Saarinen’s Tulip Chair

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Are futuristic and classic and mass-produced and organic all terms that can be used to describe just one chair? Let me introduce the Tulip Chair. Mostly defined by its formal unity and unique organic shape, this chair has been a symbol of futuristic thinking in furniture design since it was first introduced and mass-produced by Knoll as part of Eero Saarinen’s pedestal series in the 1950s.

The Urn: Logo From Antiquity

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When we see an Apple logo on our smart phone, we don’t think fruit, we think cutting-edge devices. When we see Starbucks’ green mermaid with long wavy locks, we don’t think sea creatures, we think a cool place for cappuccinos. And when citizens of America and Europe in the 18th century saw urns, they didn’t think funerals and ashes, they thought noble simplicity, beauty, and reason.

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