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This is a vase. It was designed by Russel Wright. It is dated ca. 1935. Its medium is spun aluminum. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This vase was one of many decorative household objects that Russel Wright designed in aluminum in the 1930s. Wright’s aluminum wares offered simplicity and a low price point that were attractive to the Depression-era housewife. The stepped form of this vase conjures up the outline of the American skyscraper and evokes the industrial nature of its material of aluminum, a new addition to the domestic market. Aluminum offered a number of practical qualities for use in the home; it had a silvery surface that did not tarnish or stain. Previously reserved for pots and pans, Wright was responsible for exploring the material’s potential beyond the kitchen and offering objects such as this vase that served as decorative accents. In 1932, A Design for Machine exhibition in Philadelphia featured an all-aluminum breakfast room by Wright, including lamps, tables, accessories, flatware, and mugs. Sales agent Mary Ryan, who promoted the Wrights’ early work, compared Russel to a “modern day Paul Revere,” linking Wright to the American tradition of metalsmithing, while noting his place in the “modern” canon as one who brought good design, in this case referencing more high style forms, to the mass market. [1]

[1] Robert Schonfeld, “Marketing Easier Living: the Commodification of Russel Wright”, in Russel Wright: Creating American Lifestyle, Donald Albrecht, Robert Schonfeld, Lindsay Stamm Shapiro, eds. (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001), 144.

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

Our curators have highlighted 5 objects that are related to this one. Here are three of them, selected at random:

  • Drawing, Round Table
  • graphite on cream tracing paper.
  • Gift of Alfons and Anita S. Bach.
  • 1998-71-22

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 14 × 17.8 cm (5 1/2 in. × 7 in.)

Cite this object as

Vase; Designed by Russel Wright ((American, 1904–1976)); spun aluminum; H x diam.: 14 × 17.8 cm (5 1/2 in. × 7 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-77

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=Vase |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=30 March 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>