College of Design

Goldstein Museum of Design

November 25, 2014

Art in Every Day Life: Harriet and Vetta Goldstein

Although their names aren't as well-known as William Morris, John Ruskin, and Gustav Stickley, Harriet and Vetta Goldstein were allies in the fight for design reform.

Photograph of Harriet and Vetta Goldstein

Namesakes of the Goldstein Museum of Design, sisters Harriet and Vetta were teachers in the Home Economics department at the University of Minnesota. Their contribution to the Arts and Crafts movement, a book titled Art in Every Day Life, was published in 1925. Its aim was to teach students of "house design and decoration, store decoration, costume design, advertising, and city planning" the principles of good design in order to better appreciate and judge designed objects. Beginning with a chapter on "The Importance of Good Taste," the book emphasizes the relationship between beauty and good design, echoing many of the basic tenets of the Arts and Crafts movement.

For example, where William Morris famously said:

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,"

the Goldstein sisters explained:

"When beauty is expressed in our surroundings, it becomes a part of our life and our personality. It is not a thing to be set apart for occasional enjoyment, but should be sought in everything we do, and in everything we select."

A number of requirements determine good design. An object must be:

  • useful

  • simple

  • well proportioned

  • made from and decorated with materials appropriate to its end use

  • For illustration, the sisters presented two examples. The first, a Rookwood vase closely resembling this one, was considered good design "because it has pleasing proportions, simplicity of line, and is suitable for its use." The second example, the fly swatter on the right, was considered bad design because the decoration is inconsistent with its use, rendering the object "manifestly absurd."

    (left) Rookwood Pottery, vase, 1936, earthenware. Museum Purchase, 1996.000.021 (right) Unknown maker, decorated fly swatter, c. 1925, plastic, wool. Gift of Harriet and Vetta Goldstein, not accessioned

    Recognizing that most people were not in the situation to pick and choose their belongings with impunity, the Goldsteins dedicated a chapter to "Making the Best of One's Possessions." For those of us "forced to compromise, and... make the best of what we have," here are the Goldsteins' three remedies for "'decorative mishaps' that may have occurred through inheritance or because of unwise purchases."

    Each object in a room should be judged practically. If it does not add to the beauty or to the comfort of the room it should be discarded. Even after this has been done there may be too many things for the size of the room. This will require an additional sifting out.

    Order is the first requirement for beauty.

    After all the unessentials have been eliminated and the room has been well arranged, some unsightly objects, necessary for comfort, may remain. Then the problem of hiding their deficiencies is met.

    Sounds like the advice offered by many a show on the DIY Network and HGTV, does it not?

    by Natasha Thoreson

    This is the first in a series of blogs celebrating the Arts and Crafts movement, as represented in the collections at the Goldstein Museum of Design.

    Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 12:20 PM | | Comments (0)

    November 6, 2014

    An Open-Front Cape and Close Ties

    The crisp air and changing leaves bring a shift towards fall fashions. Retailers like Anthropologie are selling some lovely capes, but they are nothing like this beautiful silk-satin version by Christian Dior, gifted to GMD by notable donor and Minnesota-native fashion director, Kathleen Catlin.


    The loosely structured shawl collar and three-quarter sleeves compliment the draped body of the garment. The cream satin is cutaway to reveal a matte peach silk and to create the scroll motif. The design is embroidered with metallic gold thread and adorned with beads, rhinestones, and pearls. Made in France, the cape was originally worn on the runway during the early 1950s and was a gift from one of the Goldstein's notable donors: Kathleen Catlin.

    Catlin was born in Cottonwood, Minnesota - a small town west of the Twin Cities. She had a number of jobs in the fashion industry, including writing for a fashion column and working in publicity and copywriting, but she best known for her role as fashion director at Marshall Field's in Chicago from 1946-1961. She was very influential in importing European, especially French, fashions to Field's and for raising the status of the midwest store. Catlin traveled to Europe twenty-eight times while at Field's, forming ties with many in the fashion industry. She was particularly close to Dior, whom she brought to Field's during his first visit to the United States.

    One of her former employee noted that "Dior thought the world of her" (Moin, 1995). Catlin also thought very highly of the designer and her personal wardrobe featured a great deal of his work. She donated her couture collection to the museum, which included several objects that reflect the relationship between the designer and the fashion director, including a scarf that reads "Christian Dior pour Miss K. Catlin."


    Moin, D. (1995). A memorial service set for Kathleen Catlin. Women's Wear Daily, 80(1), 16.

    By Laureen Gibson

    Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 1:04 PM | | Comments (0)

    October 28, 2014

    Oscar de la Renta: A Visual Celebration


    Beloved American fashion designer Oscar de la Renta passed away on October 20, 2014 at the age of 82. GMD has a collection of 77 de la Renta garments; the 20 shown here testify to his playful, colorful, and diverse design aesthetic. To find out more about these and more Oscar de la Renta garments, visit our collection database and search for "Oscar de la Renta."

    -By Natasha Thoreson, Lila Bath Collections Assistant

    Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 5:00 PM | | Comments (1)

    October 21, 2014

    More is More: Bob Mackie Couture at GMD

    Bob Mackie is considered one the most outrageous of designers, creating some of the most spectacularly outré costumes of the last 55 years. Remember the feathered headdress and skimpy, sparkling halter top Cher wore to the 1986 Oscars? Or the hilarious curtain rod dress Carol Burnett wore in her parody of Gone with the Wind? Both were created by Mackie. It is fitting, then, that one of the most sensational objects in GMD's collection bears his signature.

    mackie_1.jpgBob Mackie [born 1940], Jacket, 1988, silk, feathers. Gift of Emily Willard 2005.001.015

    Constructed from yellow silk faille and trimmed with silver braid, this bolero jacket makes a humorous play on the shoulder angel and devil convention. Both horses are embroidered with chenille yarn; their manes created with long, fluttering black and white feathers. Whimsical details include rhinestone buckles on each bridle and three-dimensional stand up embroidered ears.

    Mackie has famously declared that "A woman who wears my clothes is not afraid to be noticed." Emily Willard, the jacket's generous donor, made a career of being noticed. As an elegant - and tiny! - ballerina living in New York, Willard amassed a large collection of flamboyant 1980s fashions, including this gorgeous evening gown embellished with bugle beads, rhinestones, and a huge iridescent burgundy bow.

    mackie2.jpgBob Mackie evening dress, bugle beads, rhinestones. Gift of Emily Willard 2005.001.016a-b

    Willard wore her jacket with a simple black wool crepe sheath with spaghetti straps, similar to the one featured in this Vogue fashion spread from September 1988. The text explains that this one "striking accessory" was enough to "make" any look. Note, however, the Vogue model's oversize black and white star-shaped earrings and permed and teased hair - the 80s were an era when more was definitely more!

    "Something Different Is Happening This Fall." Vogue 178, no. 9 (September 1, 1988), 633.

    Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 1:37 PM | | Comments (0)

    October 15, 2014

    Award Winning Student Apparel Design: Siberia + Sustainability

    After weeks of preparation, the day arrived. Rushing around, trying to get every detail taken care of, an entire apparel design class readied their designs, their models, and themselves for the WAM Collective's 2014 Elements: Design Competition and Runway Show.

    The prompt for this fashion show was to design a piece that both embodied the life and culture of Siberia and addressed the idea of sustainability. Elizabeth Bischoff's design, a full-length coat with upcycled beaver fur, two different upholstery fabrics, and a lining fabric won honorable mention award. Bischoff described the coat materials as connecting strongly to the Taiga forest in Siberia, while the design and lining color suggest the Mongolian culture indigenous to Siberia.


    The apparel design class took on this project as a lesson in designing for a theme and also handling the preparation and stress of a runway show. All of Bischoff's classmates who submitted a design won a spot in the show. They participated in a rehearsal where their personal music selections were played through while the models walked. Some chose to model their own work and some recruited models. Bischoff recruited her good friend, Casey Casella. To make sure the night of the show would go smoothly, they ran through the hair and makeup schedule during the rehearsal.

    The show (check it out the video below) went off without a hitch, Bischoff took home a gift certificate to Treadle Yard Goods and she showcased her coat at GMD's Legendary Lake Design benefit (where she also showed a suit coat and a pair of pants) this past September. We hope to see more of her designs popping up on the runway soon!

    Posted by Goldstein Museum of Design at 1:59 PM | | Comments (3)



    Archives List