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Panel, Study for Ford Foundation wall panels

This is a Panel. It was designed by Sheila Hicks and architect: Warren Platner. It is dated 1967 and we acquired it in 1969. Its medium is linen and its technique is embroidered on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

The Ford Foundation Headquarters, completed in 1967, was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates. Architect Warren Platner was responsible for the building’s interior. The design of the wall panels for the boardroom and auditorium was one of several collaborations between Platner and textile artist Sheila Hicks. At Yale, Hicks had studied with architects Vincent Scully and Louis Kahn, gaining an important understanding of architectural space. As a result, her site-specific works fully integrate with their environments.

The wall panels’ medallions in straight rows and columns create a quiet rhythm of visual interest. The orientation of the embroidered threads in each medallion is consistent, ensuring that each will capture and reflect light in the same way. For Platner, the embroidery of the wall panels was not ornament but a more visible and complimentary construction material. For Hicks, it was the first time that a contemporary textile was conceived of as integral to the architectural space, rather than as a decorative hanging. It was “a real breakthrough,” she later said, “… a pliable plane that was then brought into tension and became the actual wall.”

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Pliable Plane.

This object was donated by Sheila Hicks. It is credited Gift of Sheila Hicks.

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Its dimensions are

H x W: 72 x 72 cm (28 3/8 x 28 3/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Panel, Study for Ford Foundation wall panels; Designed by Sheila Hicks (American, b. 1934); Architect: Warren Platner (American, 1919–2006); USA; linen; H x W: 72 x 72 cm (28 3/8 x 28 3/8 in.); Gift of Sheila Hicks; 1969-25-1

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Duro Olowu Selects.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Panel, Study for Ford Foundation wall panels |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=31 January 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>