If “the medium is the message,” as Marshall McLuhan so famously wrote of mass media, then, when it comes to objects, the mediums with which they are constructed contain layers of meaning beyond, say, the pleat of a skirt or the curve of a chair. Here, we’ve scoured the 1stdibs inventory to find noteworthy pieces of fashion, furniture, art, jewelry and design that are defined by their materials.


concrete

con·crete
noun: a heavy, rough building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement and water that can be spread or poured into molds and that forms a stonelike mass on hardening.

 

1. Jonas Bohlin chair, 1981, offered by Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery 2. Ettore Sottsass sculpture, 1985, offered by Frank Landau 3. Guggenheim Architectural Study #1973, 2011, by Andreas H. Bitesnich, offered by Preiss Fine Arts 4. Wendell Castle chair, 2009, offered by Friedman Benda 5. Os & Oos Occultation lamp, 2012, offered by Galerie Gosserez 6. Willy Guhl planter, 1960s, offered by Sigmar 7. Chuck Dodson wall-mounted cast-concrete Art Deco plaque titled “Industry,” 1950s, offered by Gustavo Olivieri


linen

lin·en
noun: a cloth made of flax and noted for its strength, coolness and luster.

 

1. Linen-wrapped campaign desk, 20th century, offered by Lerebours Antiques 2. Chanel cream-and-green ensemble, 1980s, offered by Regeneration 3. Hand-painted linen textiles, 18th century, offered by Démiurge New York 4. Pair of Bernard Rooke stoneware lamps with linen shades, ca. 1970, offered by Maurice Bean Art & Design 5. Etched parchment panels, 1890s, offered by William Laman 6. Chinese political poster, 1967, offered by Surfing Cowboys 7. Kerstin Hörlin-Holmquist lounge chair, 1950s, offered by Madero Collectors Room 8. Thad Hayes screen, 1990s, offered by Lobel Modern


aluminum

a·lu·mi·num
noun: a silver-white malleable light element that conducts electricity and heat well, is highly resistant to oxidation and is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust.

 

1. Giacomo Benevelli wall light, 1970, offered by Casati Gallery 2. Jeff Koons Cracked Egg sculpture, 2008, offered by Chez Camille 3. Pair of Paul Schuitema for D3 chairs, 1932, offered by ArtBrokerDesign 4. Storh’s beer truck doors advertising sign, ca. 1962, offered by Belvair For Modern Living 5. Art Deco dice table lamp, ca. 1942, offered by Decollect 6. Converto Lo-Boy tricycle, 1950s, offered by Pegboard Modern 7. Gino Sarfatti for Arteluce wall lights, 1959, offered by Art of Vintage 8. Robert Haussmann wall lamps, 1970s, offered by rewire


rattan

rat·tan
noun: a climbing palm (especially of the genera Calamus and Daemonorops) with very long tough stems.

 

1. Model motorcycle, ca. 1960, offered by Galerie Harter 2. Wild Palms, 2006, by Justine Kurland, offered by Mitchell-Innes & Nash 3. Embroidered circle skirt, 1950s, offered by Torso Vintages 4. Miller Yee Fong Lotus chair, ca. 1965, offered by Archive 20th Century 5. French gold-and-diamond leaf brooch, ca. 1945, offered by Kentshire Galleries 6. Madame Paulette straw hat, 1950s, offered by Vintage Luxury 7. Henry Olko dining table, 1978, offered by Rehab Vintage Interiors 8. Ward Bennett Sled chair, ca. 1970, offered by Cosmo


parchment

parch·ment
noun: strong, tough and often somewhat translucent paper made to resemble parchment (the skin of a sheep or goat prepared for writing on).

 

1. Jacques Adnet semainier cabinet, ca. 1930, offered by Pamplemousse 2. Aldo Tura ice bucket and bottle rest, 1950s, offered by Revive 3. Karl Hagenhauer table lamp, 1920s, offered by Roberto Navarro 4. All’Infinito (To the Infinite), 2006, by Minjung Kim, offered by Leslie Sacks Contemporary 5. Aldo Tura sliding coffee table, 1950s, offered by Eric Appel 6. Pair of Osvaldo Borsani nightstands, ca. 1950, offered by Thomas Gallery 7. Jacques Adnet floor lamp, 1940s, offered by Pascal Boyer Gallery 8. Maxime Old vanity, ca. 1940, offered by Paul Stamati Gallery


galvanize

gal·va·nize
verb: to immerse (steel or iron) in molten zinc to produce a coating of zinc-iron alloy that prevents rusting.

 

1. Riveted side table, ca. 1975, offered by the Window 2. Joseph Mathieu stackable tin chairs, 1930s, offered by Il Segno Del Tempo 3. Isamu Noguchi Kaki-Persimmons sculpture, 1983, offered by Adam Edelsberg 4. Agent Provocateur, 2014, by Sophie DeFrancesca, offered by OENO Gallery 5. Peter Thibeault tray, 1989, offered by Fresh Kills 6. Pair of artichoke finials, 21st century, offered by Marymont Plantation Antiques 7. John Dickinson table, 1960s, offered by Marymont Plantation Antiques


grass

grass
noun: any of a large family (Graminaeae syn. Poaceae) of monocotyledonous mostly herbaceous plants with jointed stems, slender sheathing leaves and flowers borne in spikelets of bracts.

 

1. Philippe Morillon wallpaper, 2014, offered by Pierre Passebon Galerie Du Passage 2. Stella McCartney for Chloe embroidered bias-cut dress, 2001, offered by Marilyn Glass 3. Japanese screen, ca. 1880, offered by Naga Antiques 4. Tubatulabul basket, 19th century, offered by Michael Haskell 5. Russel Wright Grass dinnerware, 1957, offered by Modernaire 6. d’Accolay illuminated coffee table, 1960s, offered by Morentz 7. Orrefors Graal vase, ca. 1938, offered by Lillian Nassau 8. Karl Springer console table, 1970s, offered by Soho Treasures


resin

res·in
noun: any of various natural organic substances that are usually transparent or translucent and yellowish to brown, are formed especially in plant secretions, are electrical nonconductors and are used chiefly in varnishes, printing inks and plastics.

 

1. Line Vautrin Tudor mirror, ca. 1955, offered by Milord Antiques 2. Helene de Saint Lager gueridon table, 2013, offered by Twenty First Gallery 3. Pillow lamp, ca. 1970s, offered by Les Illumines Design 4. Transition 11, 2014, by Ken Sloan, offered by Christopher Anthony LTD 5. Lapis lazuli coffee table, 1970s, offered by Galerie Jean-Louis Danant 6. Chanel cuff, 1990s, offered by Resurrection 7. Gaetano Pesce 543 Broadway chair, ca. 1992, offered by Galerie Harter 8. Nucleo console table, 2014, offered by Ammann Gallery