Timeless Good Design
Black-and-white exhibition installation view showing numerous forms of laboratory glass, including flasks and cylinders, lined up according to size on a black cloth and lit from above. 1934
The collection
Five laboratory boiling flasks, each in transparent glass with a spherical bottom and a cylindrical spout. There are two 250mL flasks and one each of 1Litre, 2Litres, and 3Litres.
Designed by
Borosilicate glass
Produced by
Corning Glass Works, Corning, New York
3000 mL: 33.5 x 19.5 x 19.5cm

The Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design, 2013.10.1–3

Some of the properties that made these flasks ideal for laboratory use also made them well-suited for domestic use in serving water or wine. The flattened bottom and concentration of weight in the lower portion created stability, the long slender neck provided secure grip for pouring, and the transparency offered easy view of the contents.

They came in broad range of sizes—those shown here range from 250 mL to 3 L—some more useful in a lab than at home. The material, borosilicate glass, was invented in Germany in the 19th century and combined silica and boron to create laboratory ware that was resistant to extreme heat. Modern designs for glass pitchers and decanters became available in the years following the Machine Art exhibition, making domestic use of the lab glass unnecessary.