Cheap Thrills: Great Designs for $5 or Less
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Since 1927 the Henry Art Gallery’s exhibition program has reflected a commitment to design in architecture, textiles, fashion, graphics, and commercial objects. In 1929, the Henry hosted an exhibition entitled “Objects Commercially Produced Costing Fifty Cents or Less”, curated by Mr. John Cotton Dana, then Director of the Newark Museum in New Jersey. This exhibition challenged the public’s understanding of the design merits of inexpensive mass-produced objects. The exhibition featured items such as a glass bonbon dish from Macy’s, a pottery bean pot from the Kresege 10-cent Store and many other common objects. Visitors were asked to look at products outside of their normal settings and critique them for their design properties.
To celebrate the Henry’s 75th anniversary, individuals were invited from the arts and design communities to select their favorite manufactured objects currently available in stores for $5 or less (the inflationary equivalent to $.50 in 1929). This contemporary twist on an historic exhibition revealed how the technological progress in contemporary materials, improvement in manufacturing methods and the evolution of design education have stimulated unlimited new product developments.