Is this coffee set in a specific style or is it unique and anomalous?
This coffee set was made in the internationally practiced “modern style” of the 1920s and 1930s. The industrial-looking chrome and simplified geometric forms are typical of industrial design in this period. Designers drew inspiration from the aesthetics and functionality of machines. The smooth, streamlined forms lent themselves to mass-production and the lack of applied ornament meant that these could be manufactured relatively inexpensively. The handles are interesting because they are made of Bakelite - an early synthetic plastic!
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This is terrific example of Art Deco design in America! The smooth, undecorated surface made this coffee pot design easy to produce in large numbers. The handles are made of an early plastic designed to resemble ivory.
Were these objects actually purchased and used by real people or were they art objects?
These were certainly designed to be used! The Coronet Coffee Set was produced in 1938, but this set was not acquired by the museum until 2008. The focus of our Decorative Arts collection is to represent the art of design in functional objects.
Were they expensive? Could common people own them or were they status items?
We aren't certain how much this particular set was used, but we do know that this design was priced for upper-middle class consumers who would have used it while entertaining guests in an informal setting at home.
Cool - thanks so much!