SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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SchoolArts December 2008 The Kubus storage container set was designed in 1938 by German designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld. Wilhelm Wagenfeld was a student of the Bauhaus, a design and architecture school that existed in Germany in the 1920s and 30s. The Bauhaus was noted for simplified forms, combination of form and function, and mass production. A product of the Bauhaus, Wagenfeld emphasized the need for affordable and functional products that everyone could access. In the 1930s, new technologies like electric refrigerators and ovens were being produced. Space in electric refrigerators was limited, and people needed efficient food storage systems to fit any model they bought. This set of nine clear-glass food storage containers was a solution to maximize space in any refrigerator. The compact, stackable container sets could be arranged in any way the user imagined to best fit their own refrigerator or pantry. Made from molded, industrial, heat-resistant glass, these modular containers made it possible for them to stack and fit compactly together. The Kubus containers featured different sizes with interchangeable lids. Because they were unornamented and simply shaped, they were easy to By Allison Valchuis, education assistant; and Marianna Siciliano, Peter Krueger summer intern, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Things to consider: What other designs are modular? What are some objects that you use every day that you could adjust to become more compact by fitting into each other or by being stacked? How does this new design improve the function of the object? clean and user-friendly. Since they were clear, it was easy to see the contents of the container. The predecessor to Tupperware, these containers made storing leftovers simple. The Kubus storage containers were remarkably popular and reflected a new step in home product design. Reflecting the ideals of the Bauhaus, it was produced to be affordable, widely available, and balanced in form and function. Change in design reflects our changing needs, and the Kubus containers filled a need for efficiency that people demanded. Storage container set: Kubus, designed by Wilhelm Wagenfeld (German, 1900–1990), manufactured by Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke, Germany, 1938. Machine molded and pressed glass. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Museum purchase from Sir Arthur Bryan and General Acquisitions Endowment Funds, 1990-4-1/18. Photo: John Parnell. GalleryCard SchoolArts December 2008 Wallpaper has roots in a centuries-old design tradition predominantly used for decoration. But what happens when decoration, design, and fine art cross paths? Contemporary artist and designer Virgil Marti blurs the lines of these traditions. Of his work, Marti said, "the distinction between art and design has bugged me, and I'd just as soon straddle it." After graduating from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, he transitioned to printmaking at the Fabric Workshop, where he made his best-known wallpaper Bullies. Bullies is screenprinted in rayon flock and fluorescent inks that glow under black light. The wallpaper is printed in a repeating pattern and sold in limited quantities on rolls. The pattern can be cut, aligned, and repeated to allow the consumer to easily and efficiently cover any size or shape wall with little waste. Borrowing a nineteenth-century floral motif, Marti adds images from his junior high-school yearbook of twentytwo boys he claims bullied him as a child. Put on display as they put him on display, the boys are hung like a trophy on your wall. This element of humor is something that Marti highlights in his work. By Allison Valchuis, education assistant; and Marianna Siciliano, Peter Krueger summer intern, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. Things to consider: What do the objects you own say about your personality and taste? What other objects straddle the line between fine art and design? Think of ways to redesign your classroom or personal living space to reflect the personalities and tastes of its users. A design object usually enters our daily lives as something that we interact with and use, but this object is designed for visual pleasure. Traditionally, customers also purchased wallpaper to show their social stature, personal taste, and wealth. However, it's up to the consumer to choose how they would like to view Bullies; as a home accessory, a bold aesthetic statement, or a conceptual artwork. Virgil Marti, Bullies, 1992. Screen-printed in fluorescent ink, rayon flock on Tyvek. CooperHewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Museum Purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund and Friends of Wallcoverings Fund through gift of the Raymond Family in honor of Paul Raymond, 2002-4-1. Photo: Matt Flynn. GalleryCard

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