Architecture and Design

Deborah Adler

American, born 1975

Klaus Rosburg

German, born 1962

Target ClearRx Prescription Bottles


Polyethylene terephthalate and paper

Manufactured by Setco, Inc., a division of Kerr Group, Inc.

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of AIGA, 2007.4756

Motivated by a desire to make people’s lives safer, graphic designer Deborah Adler designed a comprehensive system for packaging prescription medicine when she was still a student at New York’s School of Visual Arts. In 2004, Adler brought this innovation to Target, and together with Klaus Rosburg they developed the ClearRx system. The results were a redesigned bottle, easy-to-read labels, color-coded rings, a removable information card, and new warning icons.

Antonio Bonet

Spanish, 1913–89

Juan Kurchan

Argentine, 1913–75

Jorge Ferrari Hardoy

Argentine, 1914–77

B.K.F. Chair


Painted wrought-iron rod and leather

Manufactured by Artek-Pascoe, USA (about 1941–43); Knoll International, USA (about 1950–75)

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert Christ-Janer, 1995.72

Marcel Breuer

American, born Hungary, 1902–81

Wassily Chair

ca. 1925

Chrome-plated steel and leather

Manufactured by Standard Möbel, Germany

Denver Art Museum, Bequest of Myron B. Hochstetler, 1970.191.2

While teaching at the Bauhaus, a design and fine arts school in Dessau, Germany, Marcel Breuer often rode a bicycle, a pastime that led him to what is one of the most important innovations in furniture design in the early twentieth century: the use of tubular steel. The tubular steel of his bicycle’s handlebars was strong and lightweight and lent itself to mass production. Breuer reasoned that if it could be bent into handlebars, why then could it not be used for furniture?

Art Chantry

American, born 1954

Crockshock! [Whip Girl]


Screen print

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of the designer, 2008.105.16

All told Chantry's extensive body of work (thousands of posters, hundreds of record covers, books and magazines... even barf bags) provides an event-by-event account of Seattle's vibrant cultural scene in the 1980s and 90s, reflecting the activities in clubs and underground theaters, the emergence of Northwest punk and grunge rock and annual local benefits and music festivals like Hempfest, Give Peace a Dance, and Crockshock! These works also demonstrate that image appropriation, instigated in the 1920s by Kurt Schwitters and Max Ernst, and brought to a boil by the Pop artists in the earliest 1960s, is hardly limited to the art world -- and that Chantry was among the people who made this so.

Coors Porcelain Co.

Established 1910, Golden, Colorado



Glazed porcelain

Manufactured by Coors Porcelain Co., Golden, Colorado

Collection Denver Art Museum, Bequest of Myron B. Hochstetler and Gift of John K. Coors and CoorsTek, Inc., Golden, Colorado, 1970.116.1–3 and 2003.929

The chemical porcelain labware created by the Coors Porcelain Company in Golden, Colorado, now known as CoorsTek, is a unique collection of specialized scientific forms—crucibles, beakers, evaporating dishes, and other items for experimentation purposes—that have remained virtually unchanged since their earliest iteration. By 1920, the company produced some three hundred different shapes and sizes of chemical porcelain bearing the trademark of Coors, U.S.A.

Tom Dixon

British, born Tunisia, 1959

Fresh Fat Chair


Extruded PTEG (plastic)

Manufactured by Tom Dixon, UK

Collection Denver Art Museum, Funds provided by the Design Council of the Denver Art Museum, PTL-7379


Established 2006, Denver, Colorado

Roadrunner Chair


Medium-density fiberboard (MDF), linseed oil, and pine-resin varnish

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of the designer, 2010.9

DoubleButter’s use of medium-density fiberboard for the Roadrunner chair is something of an unusual design decision. While MDF possesses greater stability than solid wood, it is a material that most furniture makers try their best to hide beneath wood veneer, plastic laminate, or paint, due to its associations with cheapness or artificiality. The Roadrunner is an anomaly for its candid acceptance of those factors, relying on fine craftsmanship to re-imagine MDF as a legitimate material choice.

Attributed to Christopher Dresser

British, 1834–1904


ca. 1870

Glazed earthenware

Manufactured by Watcombe Pottery Co., Torquay, England

Collection Denver Art Museum, Funds from David and Brenda Schrier, 2006.26

Stephen Frykholm

American, born 1942

Herman Miller Summer Picnic, August 8, 1975


Screen print

Collection Denver Art Museum, Purchased with funds contributed by Design Council of the Denver Art Museum, 2010.563

Frank O. Gehry

American, born Canada, 1929

Wiggle Side Chair


Laminated corrugated cardboard and fiberboard

Manufactured by Easy Edges, Inc., New York, NY

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of Mark Addison, 1994.14.1

Cardboard furniture came onto the scene during the 1960s as a cheap and light alternative to traditional furniture. Frank Gehry discovered a process of gluing layers of corrugated cardboard together to transform massive blocks of cardboard into furniture. In 1972, Gehry designed a group of seating units called Easy Edges Furniture. The informal, low-cost products were light, surprisingly strong, and comfortable in spite of their seemingly improvised quality.

Samuel Gragg

American, 1772–1855

Side Chair

ca. 1808

Wood and paint

Manufactured by shop of Samuel Gragg, Furniture Warehouse, Boston, MA

Collection Denver Art Museum, The Harry I. Smookler Memorial Endowment Fund, 1988.13

A startling innovation in its day, Samuel Gragg’s side chair stretched the boundaries of bending wood. Bent under steam pressure to the wood’s furthest point, the chair’s back and seat form one continuous profile. The flexible nature of the wood provides the chair’s structure with a degree of flexibility not found in more traditionally built chairs, which allows it to adapt to the sitter’s weight and posture but retain its original shape. Few examples of bentwood furniture branded by Gragg are known to have survived; usually the light, thin curved elements were cracked or broken.

Rick Griffith

British, born 1969

Compression Plates 1 - 10 from Seeking New Suprematist Forms Through Typography


Screen print

Collection Denver Art Museum, Design After Dark Fund, 2010.5.6

Reyn Dirksen

Dutch, 1924–99

Europe: All Our Colours to the Mast

ca. 1950


Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of the U.S. Government, 1967.121.24

In the fall of 1950, the European Recovery Program, as the Marshall Plan came to be known, sponsored an international poster contest on the theme, “Intra-European Co-operation for a Better Standard of Living.” Artists were encouraged to submit posters that represented the theme of cooperation and economic recovery. Over 10,000 works were submitted. A panel of twelve artists, each representing a different Marshall Plan country served as judges. They selected twenty-five winning posters. First prize went to this poster by Reyn Dirksen.

Thom Mayne

American, born 1944

Nee Chair


Cast aluminum, steel, and perforated steel

Manufactured by Farrage & Company, Culver City, California

Collection Denver Art Museum, Funds from the 2001 DAM Uncorked, 2001.408

Victor Moscoso

American, born La Coruna, Spain, 1936

Chambers Brothers


Offset lithograph

Collection Denver Art Museum, Partial gift of David and Sheryl Tippit; partial purchase with Architecture, Design, and Graphics Department Acquisition Funds; and Volunteer Endowment Funds in honor of R. Craig Miller, 2008.797

Not on view in the museum

While a student at Yale University, Victor Moscoso studied color theory under the Bauhaus-trained artist Josef Albers. Moscoso subverted Albers’s theories of color interaction in exuberant posters advertising rock concerts. With his vibrating color combinations and lettering pushed to the point of illegibility, Moscoso’s posters broke many time-honored graphic design traditions.

Jason Munn

American, born 1975

School of Seven Bells / Black Moth Super Rainbow


Screen print

Collection Denver Art Museum, Design After Dark Fund, 2010.4

In 2002 Jason Munn joined the surge of innovative poster production taking place across the country when he founded his one-man design studio, The Small Stakes. Influenced by the independent music scene, skateboard graphics, and posters of the 1940s and 1950s, Munn is a graphic artist who responds to simplicity and clarity. His hand-printed, limited-edition posters exhibit minimal typography and an exemplary use of negative space—the unoccupied but significant spaces between the images and type.

Giovanni Pintori

Italian, 1912–99




Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of Keith Shaver, 1994.486

Hired in 1936, Giovanni Pintori was a master at visually communicating Olivetti’s innovations. Instead of advertising one specific product, this poster conveys a broader message about the company. The image promotes Olivetti’s technological achievements in the field of calculating, which it had recently entered with a line of adding machines. Symbolizing the ease with which its new products brought order to the world of numbers, the company’s logotype sits dead center in the chaotic mass of numerals.

Aldo Rossi

Italian, 1931–97

Euro Disney Headquarters, Paris


Ink and pastel watercolor on paper

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of Robert and Lisa Kessler, 2006.186

Borek Sipek

Czechoslovakian, born 1949

Odette Fruit Bowl


Porcelain and plated silver

Manufactured by Driade

Collection Denver Art Museum, Gift of Robert and Lisa Kessler, 2006.190

Thomas E. Warren

American, active 1849–52

Centripetal Spring Side Chair

ca. 1849

Painted cast iron, wood, and upholstery

Manufactured by American Chair Company, Troy, NY

Collection Denver Art Museum, Funds from DAM Yankees, 1989.91

By the mid-1800s American chair makers developed new designs that took advantage of machine manufacturing techniques, and they incorporated iron and other materials into the construction of their products. The American Chair Company was primarily a manufacturer of railway-car seating that had spring-based devices designed to absorb shocks. The centripetal chair was one of the company’s earliest household products. It swiveled and turned in the manner of a modern desk chair.

Wes Wilson

American, born 1937

Otis Rush and His Chicago Blues Band, Grateful Dead, Fillmore Auditorium


Offset lithograph

Collection Denver Art Museum, Partial gift of David and Sheryl Tippit; partial purchase with Architecture, Design, and Graphics Department Acquisition Funds; and Volunteer Endowment Funds in honor of R. Craig Miller, 2008.545


The architecture and design collection features modern and contemporary architecture, furniture, and industrial and graphic design, and showcases designers and movements from this period. Also in the collection are works from the Middle Ages to the 1900s that represent major developments in style, form, material, and technique in European and North American furniture and decorative arts.

The collection includes the AIGA Design Archives at the DAM, comprising approximately 12,000 examples of communication design created from about 1980 to 2012. This collection includes work from all disciplines of communication design—packaging, corporate communications, brand and identity systems, editorial design and illustration, and experience design, among others. The materials reflect major design trends as well as many of the leading design firms and individual designers practicing during this period.


During the Martin Building renovation project, the architecture and design galleries are closed.

EXPLORE THE COLLECTION ONLINE: Browse artworks from the architecture and design collection anytime. Check back often for additions and updates.


Highlights of the collection include:

  • The Davis W. and Ellen N. Moore Collection of Georgian silver
  • A series of architectural drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Furniture and product designs by the late Italian designer Ettore Sottsass
  • Several key works by Michael Graves
  • More than 800 rock-and-roll posters from the psychedelic era
  • A portfolio of original screen prints by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki
  • Chairs designed by Marcel Breuer, Joe Colombo, Tom Dixon, Charles and Ray Eames, Finn Juhl, Danny Lane, Thom Mayne, George Nakashima, Pierre Paulin, Gio Ponti, Eero Saarinen, Borek Sipek, Shigeru Uchida, Robert Venturi, Hans Wegner, and many others
  • Notable bodies of work by such influential graphic designers as Alvin Lustig, Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Art Chantry, and Michael Bierut, among others
  • Significant works by innovative Colorado designers, including a selection of posters by Colorado artist John Sorbie, an assortment of screen prints by experimental printer Rick Griffith, a portfolio of architectural prints by visionary architect and professor Douglas Darden, and architectural drawings by Arnold Ronnebeck, Jeffrey Sheppard, and George Hoover

Related Events

  • Drop-In Drawing
    Event: Programs & Lectures

    Drop-In Drawing

    Monthly program on the second Tuesday of the month
    Occurs on the second Tuesday of every month. Next Occurs on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 1:00pm3:00pm.

    Join artist Anna Kaye in our fun and informal creative art sessions. Bring a drawing or sketching project of your own or get started on something new. More

  • Talk at 12 (Wednesday & Friday)
    Event: Tours

    Talk at 12 (Wednesday & Friday)

    Occurs every Wednesday and Friday. Next Occurs on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 - 12:00pm12:30pm.

    Join a docent for a 30-minute, in-depth look at an aspect of the museum’s collections or something special happening in the galleries. More

News & Stories

  • Learn More about the Eames Storage Unit
    Blog: Inside the Collection

    Learn More about the Eames Storage Unit

    On View in Serious Play through August 25, 2019

    Following the trauma of World War II, American architects and designers began to explore new ways of living and reimagined ordinary objects throughout the home in innovative ways. The Eames Storage Unit (ESU), a lightweight system of freestanding cabinets, was promoted as an inexpensive solution to the changing storage and display needs of postwar families. With the end of wartime rationing and a booming economy, Americans were acquiring more goods, and the storage and creative display of their possessions became a significant interest. More

  • Clock that is made in the shape of an eye
    Blog: Behind the Scenes

    Time to Check Out the Clocks in Serious Play

    On View through August 25, 2019

    Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year with 14 hours and 59 minutes of daylight. Since we're thinking about time passing today, we invite you to celebrate the solstice by visiting the whimsical clocks currently on view in Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America. The exhibition features 12 clocks (11 of which are shown on the wall above), each a playful design in bright colors and surprising materials.


  • children playing in Tri-Tower play structure
    Blog: Kids & Families

    Build Your Own Backyard Play Structure-Inspired by Serious Play

    Does your backyard need a DIY play structure this summer? Look no further! Download the instructions and plans for the Tri-Tower and see a full-size model of the Tri-Tower we built for Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America in the exhibition now. More

  • Serious Play Design in Midcentury America May 5-August 25
    Blog: Behind the Scenes

    New Exhibition Explores the Influence of Play on Midcentury Design

    Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America is the first major museum exhibition to present the concept of play, in mid-20th century American design, as a catalyst for creativity. Beginning in the late 1940s—after the trauma of World War II—American designers intentionally intertwined work and play, generating designs characterized by innovation and whimsy. More


These publications are available for purchase in the Shop.

  • European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century. R. Craig Miller, Penny Sparke, Catherine McDermott. London: Merrell in association with the Denver Art Museum and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2009.
  • US Design 1975–2000. R. Craig Miller, Rosemarie Haag Bletter, et al. New York: Prestel Verlag in association with the Denver Art Museum, 2001.
  • Masterworks: Italian Design, 1960–1994. R. Craig Miller. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1996.
  • Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America. Edited by Monica Obniski and Darrin Alfred; With essays by Darrin Alfred, Amy Auscherman, Steven Heller, Pat Kirkham, Alexandra Lange, and Monica Obniski. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum, 2018.


Current Staff

  • Darrin Alfred, Curator of Architecture and Design
  • Jessica Boven, Curatorial Assistant
  • Ann Lambson, Interpretive Specialist