A variety of vintage orange plastic items

The Revolutionary Past of Plastics

When plastics were first invented, they seemed to promise a utopian future.
Design 513, Damask, 1956 and Design 104, Printed Silk and Fortisan Casement [curtain fabric], 1955, by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fraught Attempt at Mass Production

The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright famously loathed commercialism, and yet he (reluctantly) designed commercial homewares to be mass-produced.
Closeup of a colorful zipper with metal teeth

How WWI Made the Zipper a Success

A money belt with a zipper became an instant success among WWI U.S. sailors, whose uniforms did not have pockets. Almost all initial zipper sales were for the money belts.
Seaweed William Kilburn

Are You Wearing Seaweed?

Are you wearing seaweed? People have been for hundreds of years, in sizing, patterns and fibers, although they might not have known it.
Car junkyard

The Birth of Planned Obsolescence

Before WWII, American businesses began embracing “creative waste”—the idea that throwing things away and buying new ones could fuel a strong economy.
blue and teal linoleum floor

Why People Once Loved Linoleum

Linoleum, which was created by pressing cotton scrim with oxidized linseed oil and adding cork dust and coloring, became instantly popular.
Chrysler Building

On The Black Skyscraper: An Interview with Literary Critic Adrienne Brown

Early skyscrapers changed the ways we see race, how we see bodies, how we perceive and make judgments about people in the world.
Cutlery: Spoon, Fork, Knife

Which Came First, the Spoon, Fork, or Knife?

The spoon predates the knife and the fork. It exists in every age and culture in a wide variety of shapes.
Colonial kitchen

What “Colonial Kitchens” Say About America

We've been fantasizing about colonial kitchens since soon after the Colonial era itself was over. What's that about?