Some objects reveal their intended functions immediately; other functions are more difficult to decipher.

Many designers believe that form follows function—the idea that an object’s shape should necessarily be based on its intended purpose.

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Tea Whisk (<em>chasen</em>) thumbnail

Tea Whisk (chasen)

20th century

A favorite of Museum Director, Rob Sidner, this whisk was made from a single piece of bamboo that was split with a knife into inner and outer tines.

Leg Splint thumbnail

Leg Splint

c. 1943

This “plyformed wood” leg splint was designed as a valuable contribution to World War II by Charles and Ray Eames.

Water Tower thumbnail

Water Tower


Is this functional, or is it part of a fantasy?

Spinning Wheel thumbnail

Spinning Wheel


This wooden spinning wheel hails from the only Shaker community in Connecticut, located in Enfield and known as the City of Union.

Hat Box thumbnail

Hat Box

20th century

This lacquered leather and brass hat storage box was made for a Qing official’s court hat, which featured a round jewel insignia at the top.

Mechanical Toy Bank “Speaking Dog” thumbnail

Mechanical Toy Bank “Speaking Dog”

c. 1885

Cast iron mechanical toy banks were popular in the last few decades of the 19th century, as a fun way for children to learn the art of thrift.

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