Carnegie Joins Permanent Collection at Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
- May 12, 2014
By Diana Mosher, Editorial Director
New York—Kudos to Carnegie. The family-owned textile manufacturer has been going strong since it opened its doors in the 1950s, and it recently shared with MHN that it has become a Certified B Corporation. B Corp certification is a rigorous third party assessment performed by the non-profit organization B Lab. Carnegie’s standing in areas such as social and environmental performance were measured and tallied with complete transparency by B Lab. Now the Carnegie team has achieved another level of design excellence. Three products have been selected for the prestigious permanent collection at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
“We are excited and honored to have our designs recognized,” says Cliff Goldman, president of Carnegie. “Receiving this honor validates our continuous effort to innovate, both in terms of materials and design.”
Founded in 1897, Cooper-Hewitt is devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design, and the museum presents compelling perspectives on the impact of design on daily life. The collection is international in scope. It contains more than 217,000 objects spanning 30 centuries in four curatorial departments—Drawings, Prints and Graphic Design, Product Design and Decorative Arts, Textiles and Wallcoverings.
The museum has three to four acquisition meetings a year and nominations are voted on by the Collections Committee. Gregory Herringshaw, the assistant curator for wallcoverings at Cooper-Hewitt, is responsible for the initial selection of items for acquisition into the permanent collection.
“The museum comes by pieces in many different ways such as submission, but Gregory is always on the lookout for innovative, well-designed and unusual wallcoverings,” explains Goldman. “Gregory visits manufacturer showrooms and trade shows. He looks at magazines and talks to design professionals. Gregory always has his ear to the ground!”
Herringshaw discovered these three entries at Carnegie’s Manhattan showroom. “Once Gregory has made a selection there is an in-house meeting with all the museum’s curators followed by a more formal meeting where an outside committee votes on whether or not to acquire pieces for the museum’s permanent collection,” adds Goldman.
The committee voted unanimously to acquire three samples of Carnegie wallcoverings for the museum’s permanent collection. Two selections are high performance woven polyethylene Xorel® patterns Artisan Embroider and Veneer Embossed. The third selection is Acorn, a specialty wallcovering decorated with ground walnut and green tea on a recycled paper backing.
Carnegie has established a tradition of firsts, including the development of its own Xorel® fabrics, which provide a durable alternative to PVC materials and Biobased Xorel, the first plant-based high performance textile in the world.
According to Goldman, Artisan Embroider and Veneer Embossed represent two embellishment techniques applied to Xorel. Artisan is created with advanced embroidery machinery, which lays stitches of Xorel monofilament in a decorative pattern on top of a Xorel base cloth. Veneer Embossed, with the use of heated embossing rollers, offers a subtle decorative wood grain design. Veneer is woven from 65 percent plant based polyethylene yarn and has earned Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification.
“We want apartment developers and design teams to know that Xorel is a perfect fit for multi-housing design,” says Goldman. “Xorel is the premiere high performance, high durability, easy to maintain textile that is environmentally responsible; it may contribute to multiple LEED points. And Xorel is as beautiful in a plain weave as it is embossed and embroidered.”
Why did these three items stand apart from others at the Carnegie showroom? Goldmans says Acorn was selected because of the unusual materials utilized in the surface decoration. “The pattern is created from walnut shells. Also Acorn is made from 70 percent post consumer recycled paper,” he adds.
Xorel Artisan Embroider was selected because of the innovative way it combines beauty, performance and sustainability. Artisan is an embroidered textile that maintains all its durability attributes even when intricately embellished. Artisan is Cradle to Cradle Silver certified.
“Xorel Veneer Emboss also combines durability and design with the added benefit of containing 80 percent plant-based content and achieving Cradle to Cradle Gold certification. Also the wood grain emboss fits nicely with other tromp l’oeil wallcoverings in the collection,” says Goldman.
He adds, “There are many fine companies included in the Cooper-Hewitt’s prestigious collection and we are thrilled to be among them.”