The collection
An aluminum coffeemaker. Its basic form is a cylinder with a triangular spout. A large black open handle is connected near the top. The lid has a glass disc on top for viewing the percolating coffee

Cafex Percolator

Designed by
Peter Müller-Munk (1904-1967)
Aluminum, borosilicate glass, phenolic plastic, stainless steel
Produced by
the Hartford Products Corp., Chicago, Illinois
20.5 x 22.5 x 13 cm

The Liliane and David M. Stewart Program for Modern Design, gift of S. Bernard Paré, 2016.11

Müller-Munk’s work illustrates the transition period between the production of objects primarily by hand and mass production. Trained as a silversmith creating unique hand-wrought objects in his native Germany, he immigrated to the United States in 1926, settling in New York, where he found work at Tiffany & Co. before starting his own studio in July 1927. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1935 to teach at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in the first industrial design degree program in North America. This marked his new role as an educator, and with a new firm begun in 1938, also as a leader in the growing field of design consultants.

This Cafex percolator is noteworthy for its simplicity and elegance. The ergonomic handle is joined to the body by a plastic and stainless-steel band, separated from the metal body to avoid burning. This design was selected for MoMA’s 1946 Useful Objects exhibition, and in a letter to the museum, Müller-Munk claimed 50,000 units of this product had been sold.