Friday, 16 December 2011

Busy, busy, busy!



It's been an extremely busy few weeks in the Study Room at our new Collections Centre in Colindale. We've been pretty much fully booked up until Christmas, and the diary is already filling up for January and February 2012. Obviously the move has done nothing to dampen people's enthusiasm for our fantastic collections! Here is just a brief overview of some of the fascinating research taking place at MoDA at the moment:


Dr Sally Anne Huxtable, Northumbria University - is researching the influence of Indian design on British fashion and interiors,between 1900 and1947. Sally has been looking through the Silver Studio's Daybooks and photograph albums, analysing to what extent Indian design influences can be seen in the work produced by the Studio during the first half of the twentieth century.




Phillip Smith, 20th Century Specialist at Mallams Fine Art Auctioneers - Phillip has been researching an early twentieth century jug believed to be designed by Archibald Knox. As well as looking at designs for silverware contained within the collections here at MoDA, Phillip also looked at some of our early Liberty's catalogues.

Felicity Ford, Sonic Artist - Felicity has spent this month recording the responses of a variety of different people to the MoDA wallpapers she's selected for the  Sonic Wallpapers project.


Guilia Ricci, Artist-in-Residence based within Middlesex University's Fine Art Department - Guilia has been taking inspiration from designs produced by the Silver Studio during the 1930s, specifically abstract and geometric patterns. She will be introducing this work to Middlesex Fine Art students over the coming months, and we're looking forward to welcoming some of the students to the archive in 2012.

Peter Cope, Independent Researcher - Peter has been researching the early twentieth century designer Will Kidd, for an article for the forthcoming edition of the Wallpaper History Society Journal. Peter has found at least two fabric samples within MoDA's collections he believes were designed by Kidd, and we are looking forward to his research continuing in the new year.

Mary Burgoyne, PhD student, St Mary's University College, Twickenham - research for her doctoral thesis on the work of the author Joseph Conrad led Mary to MoDA and our diverse Magazines and Journals Collection. Within the collection is a copy of the The Daily Chronicle Christmas Supplement, 1906, which contains the first appearance in print of Conrad's short story 'The Brute'. Mary had spent the past year trying to locate a copy of this elusive supplement in various archives and collections, and it seems that not even the British Library hold a copy. We were thrilled to learn our own (extremely fragile!) copy appears to be so rare, and would like to thank Mary for letting us know, and for her patience: she originally contacted me back in April 2011 when we were preparing for our move to Colindale.


Husnara Bibi, Conservation trainee with the National Trust - Husnara is working on a project looking at the numerous wallpaper samples found at the National Trust's Birmingham back-to-back houses. She has over 100 samples of wallpaper to identify, with nothing more to go on than small and often damaged samples of the papers themselves. It was extremely exciting to see Husnara looking through some of our wallpaper collections and being able to identify a number of papers during her visit.


We've also welcomed several undergraduate students to the Study Room, including:
  • Middlesex students from Fashion and Illustration
  • Jane Ellison, Surface Design & Printed Textiles at Northampton University
  • Dominic Goetz, Film Studies & Creative Writing at London Metropolitan University. Dominic is writing a short story based in Hampstead in 1917. He is keen that his depiction of middle-class life in this London suburb is as historically accurate as possible, and has been looking at various publications from the time for a clearer idea of the interior fashions and social conventions of the period.
It's great to see our collections are relevant to such diverse research interests and can inspire so much creativity. And it it doesn't look as if there'll be much of a let up in 2012. Better make sure I recharge my batteries over the Christmas break so I can cope with it all

Friday, 9 December 2011

Happy Christmas from MoDA

Well, it's been a busy year!  We've moved to a new home, we've started this blog, and we're adapting to a whole new way of sharing our collections with you, our audiences.  Thank you to all of you who have followed us on our journey.  Thanks, too, to those of you who have come across us more recently - we hope you like what we're doing.

Christmas card designed by the Silver Studio, 1901
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD1560


















We're looking forward to launching our new website in January.  Keep following this blog for more updates, and feel free to let us have your comments too!

Sonic Wallpaper project update


Screen printed wallpaper 'Gothic Screen',
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (BADDA 2298)














Regular readers of this blog will be aware of MoDA's Sonic Wallpapers project that we are currently working on with Felicity Ford, sound artist. Felicity's idea was to explore wallpapers from an auditory and social perspective, asking what would it be like if we decorated our homes with sounds. We were so impressed by her innovative approach that we commissioned Felicity to undertake a research project based on audio responses to wallpapers.

Flock wallpaper, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (BADDA2301)




















Since the summer, Felicity has been busy researching the collections and has selected over fifty wallpaper samples. She chose samples she thought would stimulate memories and stimulate interesting discussion.




















These wallpapers were presented to a number of invited guests over the last week or so. Felicity recorded their conversations, and she'll use these as the basis of her audio works. Felicity commented that "'powerful narratives" emerged as guests discussed the wallpapers in terms of "'atmospheres and memories", not simply in terms of design, fashion and history. Interestingly, some apparently "boring" wallpapers provoked lots of comment and discussion, whereas others which you might have thought seemed more dynamic elicited very little response at all. The next phase of the project will see Felicity editing the recordings to see which themes emerge, and she'll be documenting this process on her blog.















The initial idea was that the project would result in a conventional approach to touring exhibitions - with around twenty wallpapers shown in a single space. But as the project develops we are starting to realise that it might be possible to do things very differently, showing the papers not in a single venue but in a number of different places, both real and virtual. Working with Felicity is helping MoDA staff to think more creatively about what it means to "exhibit" stuff in a social media-dominated world, and how to engage audiences with the contents of MoDA's collections, in a rather Museum 2.0 kind of way.

"'I am very excited about this next phase of the project", Felicity commented, "and about translating the rituals of home decorating into audible content and wallpaper you can listen to". Like Felicity, we are also very excited about this innovative project and will keep you updated on its progress. In the meantime take a good look at both wallpapers featured and then consider what sounds, if any, they make you think off. Let us know what you come up with.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Kerry Howley receives the Arthur Silver Award 2011


Kerry with Zoe Hendon and Richard Lumb, MoDA Staff

Last Thursday evening, MoDA staff were on hand to see Kerry Howley receive MoDA's Arthur Silver award for 2011 at Middlesex University's annual awards ceremony. During the evening we managed to record a quick interview with Kerry in which she explained how her work was inspired by the museum's collections.

The interview is published below. It lasts just over a minute and if you are interested either in Kerry's work or how creative people are inspired by our collections - I am sure you will enjoy it. Please let us know what you think of the video as this is the first piece of video that we have added to the blog and are keen to do more!

video

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Student Experience at MoDA


As a university museum, much of our time and energy here at MoDA goes into helping Middlesex students explore the potential of accessing a museum collection. Since the beginning of the Autumn term, MoDA's Learning Officer, Richard Lumb, and I have been speaking to Art & Design students from a range of courses. For many the idea of using archive material is something new. Our aim is to demystify this process as much as possible, and to show them just what an exciting and inspiring experience exploring a museum collection can be.


Some have quite definite ideas about what they want to see. Others are understandably less sure. There is no 'right' way of approaching the collections as far as we are concerned, and I'm more than happy to chat to the students about what they are looking for. I can then suggest different aspects of the collection that might be useful. Most students are working to tight deadlines, and we do our best to arrange appointments as soon as possible.

Those looking for visual inspiration might want to focus on original hand-drawn designs or samples of fabric and wallpaper. For others it might be our collection of magazines and journals, furniture catalogues or knitting patterns. They can photograph whatever takes their fancy, sketch particular details that appeal to them, or take notes.

An initial sense of trepidation some feel when they first walk through the door quickly evaporates as the boxes are opened and their contents revealed:"I love that!" "That really reminds me of ...." "That's going to work really well with what I'm doing." "That's a bit strange!" All very typical responses from all our visitors, not just the students who come to see us.

So who's been in lately and what have they been looking at? Pictured is Magda Durka who is in her 3rd year of the BA Fashion & Textiles course here at Middlesex. Her focus is the idea of the future, and the application of emerging technologies in the design and production of fashion textiles. Not a theme you might naturally associate with an archive collection! Yet I was able to point Magda towards designs within MoDA's collections from the 1930s. Many designers deliberately turned away from traditional, historical influences during this period and sought to develop a 'modern', forward-looking aesthetic based on geometric pattern and abstract forms.

A desire to represent and reinterpret a modern and fast changing world is a recurring preoccupation amongst designers. Exploring the designs at MoDA enabled Magda to see her own attempts to do this within a broader historical context, as well as get some fantastic visual inspiration from the designs themselves.

Tomorrow I'll be working with one of our BA Illustration students. Her project involves creating a wallpaper design suitable for a kitchen and bathroom. I'll be showing her a range of papers from our collections designed with these two spaces in mind, from the washable 'sanitary' papers of the late nineteenth century, to the quirky and colourful designs produced for kitchens in the 1950s. Hopefully she'll be just as enthused and inspired as Magda.



Sunday, 27 November 2011

Beauty, Morality & Voluptuousness

The recent Cult of Beauty exhibition at the V&A has transferred to the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, with the rather clunky new title "Beauty, Morals & Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde".  We figured that the chance to see the four objects borrowed from MoDA's collections in such a fabulous setting was too good to miss, so we booked our Eurostar tickets.

















The show focuses on the Aesthetic Movement which flourished in Britain in the 1860s.  Arguably, it wasn't so much a 'movement' in the sense of having a thought-through manifesto or clear plan to change anything.  Its main driver was the desire of a literary and artistic elite (Oscar Wilde foremost among them), to differentiate themselves from the masses by their ability to choose beautiful things for their houses, rather than the 'inferior and ugly' mass produced products that were within reach of everybody else.

Japanese Katagami Stencil, late nineteenth century.  
Part of the Silver Studio collection, 
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, K1.1
currently on loan to the Musee D'Orsay, Paris
















The result was 'Art for Art's Sake'; a rejection of the Victorian principles of order and morality and a greater emphasis on sensuality and beauty.  The exhibition ranges widely, including paintings, ceramics, book design, textiles and furniture.  In a sense, it's all spread a bit thinly, with not much to hold it together other than that "here are some beautiful objects".  Which is, in itself, a good reason to see it.  Plus, if you have room for another sensual pleasure after all that beauty, we can recommend the hot chocolate in the museum's cafe.


The exhibition continues until January 15th 2012, at the Musee D'Orsay, Paris.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

on the trail of a mystery wallpaper

Here at MoDA we often receive enquiries from museums and historic houses wanting our help in identifying unusual wallpapers. Unusual wallpaper is frequently uncovered as part of the restoration of an old building, and finding out about the wallpaper can reveal important details about the tastes, income level and aspirations of the people who lived there at the time.

We recently received an enquiry about this wallpaper, from Sagtikos Manor in New York, which dates from around 1902:





















We're pretty sure it wasn't designed by the Silver Studio; the peacocks are very unlike anything else designed by Silver Studio designers at the time, and it doesn't appear in the Studio's surviving photographic records. However, the trees are a bit similar to those in this wallpaper, which was always attributed to Rex Silver:

SW1161, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture















This is a mystery we haven't yet been able to solve - if you have any thoughts about who might have designed the peacock wallpaper, do let us know!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Sonic Wallpapers: Decorating with Sound


What would it be like if we could decorate our walls with sound?  Listen to sonic artist Felicity Ford talking about her new project Sonic Wallpaper, which looks at wallpapers from MoDA's collections.


1950s
Wallpaper, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, photographed by Felicity Ford

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Introducing "Sonic Wallpaper"


This winter artist Felicity Ford will be drawing on the MoDA wallpaper collection for inspiration for a new project. Sonic Wallpaper explores wallpaper from auditory and social perspectives, asking what would it be like if we decorated our homes with sounds?



1950s-flowers
Wallpaper, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, photographed by Felicity Ford
Felicity brings a refreshing new perspective by thinking about the sounds suggested or auditory memories prompted by something as familiar as wallpaper.  We've commissioned her to take a look at a selection of wallpapers from our collections, and she'll be creating sound pieces to accompany some of them.

garish
Wallpaper, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, photographed by Felicity Ford
Felicity's experimenting with a website called Pinterest which lets you collect images that inspire you on to a virtual pinboard.  And she'll be making use of Audioboo and Twitter to share her ideas and gather your responses.  Watch (or listen to) this space for more details as the project develops.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

MoDA's Award Winner goes global

Kerry Howley, winner of MoDA's Arthur Silver Award 2011, continues to enjoy considerable success with her amazing jewellery series of necklaces made from recycled human hair.































Kerry was awarded a first class honours degree in BA. Jewellery by Middlesex University this summer. In June her necklaces were featured in an article in the Daily Telegraph. This and other press coverage helped contribute to a massive interest in Kerry's work resulting in 1.75 million 'hits' on her website a month after its launch. Her jewellery was spotted by Sagmeister, a New York design company, who commissioned Kerry to design a poster for an exhibition to be shown at the Louvre in Paris from October. Kerry was also chosen by Craft magazine as one of their six favourite graduates of the year with an article due to feature in their September/October edition.

Kerry's success story continues. One of her pieces is currently in New York being filmed for a programme on the Discovery channel. Her other pieces were recently on show at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford. She is currently awaiting confirmation from the Museum of Art & Design in New York that they are going to show her work as part of an exhibition that is due to run from January - May 2012.

'It has been so overwhelming', commented Kerry. 'I would like to take some time to think about what I want to do next.

At MoDA we felt privileged that Kerry was able to spare some time in her busy schedule to drop into the new MoDA Collections Centre this week. Furthermore she has provided us with her necklaces so that we can show them as part of a display of the Arthur Silver Award 2011 in the Sheppard Library located on the Hendon campus of Middlesex University. The display will run throughout the month of October.

'The collections at MoDA were so inspirational in the design of the necklaces', Kerry commented. 'The first time around I only touched the tip of the iceberg - there is still so much more to see!'

Kerry has already made an appointment for another visit to MoDA for next month. I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

London, Paris, Tokyo

The hugely successful Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement in Britain, 1860-1900  exhibition has now transferred from the V&A in London, to the Musee D'Orsay in Paris.


Design for decoration of door and wall 
by Arthur Silver, around 1885.  
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD3






















It's great that the objects on loan from the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture will be seen by even more people.  And it's a good excuse to think about booking a trip to Paris...

Meanwhile, we're in discussion with some Japanese curators who are keen for us to lend them some of MoDA's katagami stencils, for an exhibition to be held at the Mitsubishi Ichikogan Museum, Tokyo, next year.  Watch this space!

Japanese Katagami Stencil, late nineteenth century.  
Part of the Silver Studio collection, 
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, K1.1



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Up and coming:See through the wallpaper

As regular readers of this blog will know, part of MoDA's mission is to work with students (especially those from Middlesex University) who want to be inspired by our collections.




















We are currently involved in an interactive project called 'Up and coming: See through the wallpaper', developed by Ada Lee, studying MA Design for Interactive Media at Middlesex.

















Ada's project uses wallpaper patterns from the museum's collections as markers for an augmented reality application on Ipad and Android.


































When the user points their camera at the wallpaper they will be able to see various 3D objects or videos related to the respective time period of the specific wallpaper pattern.

"I found using the wallpaper as markers is like doing some magic!" commented Ada. "When the camera recognises the wallpaper, the related objects will appear immediately, and takes you back in time to the 1930s or 1950s. Creating the 3D designs took me quite a lot of time, but I think it was worth it as you can see the detail in the furniture. Overall I feel the combination of the 3D objects and wallpaper provides a picture of domestic life of people living at that period of time".


We're impressed by the imaginative use of new technologies, which take the museum's collections into a whole new dimension. You will be able to see Ada's work on show at the Dim.sum show at 4, Wilkes Street in Spitalfields in London from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th September, along with the work of other students on the course (admission is free).  We'd love to know what you think.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Behind the Scenes at the Museum

Interview with Zoë Brealey, Assistant Curator
Zoë has been responsible for making sure MoDA’s collections are moved to our new location, and that we don’t lose anything on the way. Here we ask Zoë about her job:


















Q: How long has it taken you to prepare for this move?

A: We’ve been planning for this move for over a year. Getting ready to move the collections was a bit like an enormous 3D puzzle. The museum holds lots of objects of various sizes, ranging from small pamphlets, books and journals; to thousands and thousands of flat objects such as designs and wallpapers; and over two hundred large textiles on rolls. Part of the process has involved ensuring that everything is boxed appropriately so that it will not be damaged during the move, and also that things will be accessible to students and researchers in the long run.

At the same time, the shelving in the new location will not be the same configuration as our current shelving. I measured everything several times to ensure that it would all fit into the new store. Some objects had to be re-boxed and moved around within the store to make sure the collections fit into the newly configured space, and to ensure the best possible use of space.

I also had to label everything and make sure things were in the right places before the move, so that the removal men can put them in the correct locations at the other end!

Q: It sounds like a massive task - have you enjoyed it?
A: It has been great experience, and although it has sometimes been exhausting it's also been very satisfying to see our plans coming together.  It will be good to see all the boxes in their new locations soon, and for students and members of the public to be able to use them again. 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Robin & Lucienne Day:Design & The Modern Interior

Calyx by Lucienne Day, 1951, (image courtesy of PM Gallery)


Causeway Brown by Lucienne Day, 1967 (image courtesy of PM Gallery)
Having missed the opportunity to see the Robin & Lucienne Day exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery, I was thrilled to find out that it was touring and I was therefore determined to visit the PM Gallery in West London which is hosting the exhibition until 4th September.

The exhibition features selections of innovative furniture designs by Robin Day and vibrant patterned textiles by Lucienne Day, including her well-known Calyx and Causeway Brown designs.


BADDA4589
Integration by Lucienne Day, 1971 (BADDA4589)



MoDA holds a number of wallpapers and textiles by Lucienne Day in its collections, including this textile design titled Integration, from 1971. This abstract design is based around a series of interlocking rectangular blocks placed at rightangles with one another to create a herringbone-like pattern. The blocks are outlined in cream on a brown ground, with pink and mustard rectangular outlines appearing at regular intervals. The design was screen printed on cotton for Heal Fabrics, who produced printed furnishing fabrics for the London-based retailer Heal's. Heal's were one of Lucienne Day's key clients from the late 1940s through to the mid-1970s.

You can find out more about 1950s designs by referencing Fiftiestyle, one of a series of MoDA publications looking at 20th century design for the home.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Fabulous 'Fancy' Papers

As we get closer to our moving date we're busy in the collections stores putting away the final few objects in their rightful places. During this process I've come across some familiar objects, and some less familiar. I'd never seen these paper samples before, but they immediately become some of my favourite objects in the collections.


Just look at those colours and patterns! Some of them look so modern it's difficult to believe they aren't contemporary. Their dinky size also adds to their appeal (they're smaller than A4) and marks them out as being quite different to the other wallpaper samples in our collections.

They are in fact 'fancy' papers (isn't that a great name?) They were made for temporary interiors, display and wrapping purposes, rather than for papering the walls of people's homes. Which is probably just as well - as much as I love them, I'm not sure I could handle waking up to walls covered in one of these!

They all date from around the 1920s and were produced by Arthur Sanderson & Sons Ltd, who specialised in these so-called 'fancy' papers.




The bold colours of these, combined with the graphic designs look remarkably 1980s to me.




This one is a rather more subdued affair in beautiful greens and blues with an ethereal quality creating quite a sophisticated effect.


What do you make of them? Do they appeal to you as much as they do to me? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Come into my Bungalow!

We've recently completed a full inventory of MoDA's collection of over 4,500 books and publications in preparation for our museum move.  It's been a wonderful opportunity for us to look at everything, and we've come across some real gems.  We thought it would be a great opportunity to share some of them here.

BADDA1266
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, BADDA1266


'Come into my Bungalow' is a totally charming little booklet produced by Crown during the 1950s to advertise their wallpapers. Inside is both a children's story, and pieces to cut out and construct into your very own bungalow, complete with Crown wallpaper of course!

Below you can see a bedroom wall, papered with a design of red stars on a white background. The Crown reference numbers are provided for the wallpaper and paints featured so that you can recreate the look for real in you own home.



The book itself serves as the walls of the house when folded round on itself. The roof and pieces of furniture are provided for you to cut out and build, along with members of a two-dimensional family to inhabit it.


I would so love to cut out all the pieces and build my own little bungalow, wouldn't you?


Come into my Bungalow, Crown, 1950s (BADDA1266)

Friday, 15 July 2011

A Rather Bizarre Teddy Bear's Picnic

In preparation for our museum move, we're busy making sure that all our wallpapers, textiles and other objects are safely stored in their correct boxes, and ready to go. Today I put away two of arguably the most garish wallpapers in our collection, which had been in conservation, and I thought I'd share them.


BADDA4246-1
Wallpaper designed by Anthony Paine for Osbourne & Little in 1977, 80cm x 100cm (BADDA4246)





























The design shows teddy bears having a picnic, and is aimed at children.  But the opinion among MoDA staff is that the rather shocking colour-ways make these wallpapers quite eerie!

Personally, whenever I see them I can't helping thinking of a bizarre teddy bear version of Manet's Le dejeuner sur 'herbe of 1863. It's something about the group sitting in the clearing and the slightly odd treatment of space caused by the framing of the trees I think.

BADDA4246-2
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, BADDA4246-2


The samples are unusually wide at 80cm and had previously been stored rolled up, making it awkward to get them out to view. In preparation for the move they were identified as part of a group of interesting wallpapers that should be flattened and placed in conservation sleeves in order to make them more accessible and easier to handle. This means that come MoDA's re-launch in October, anyone can book an appointment to come and see these gems in all their glory at the new Collections Centre.

We'd love to hear what you think of them. Would you hang either of these in your child's bedroom? Would you have wanted them in your room when you were a child? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A new website for MoDA and scheduled downtime

Here at MoDA we're only too aware of the shortcomings of our current website, which is why we're so excited about launching a new and improved website in October! It's currently in development and will go live in October, when MoDA re-launches with a new Collections Centre, and a new program of touring exhibitions.

The new website will really showcase MoDA's collections in a way the current website doesn't. The whole site will be structured around our database of objects so you can browse, explore, or search the collections however you like. Whether you're looking for a taster of what we have, a bit of visual inspiration, or you have a specific research enquiry you'll find what you want more easily.

BADDA4719
Image taken from a poster advertising Halifax Building Society, 1930s (BADDA4719)


We've been busy putting together themed groups of objects so that exploring different parts of collections is simple, whether it's wallpapers, the 1950s, or suburbia you're interested in. You'll also be able to see the best of MoDA's most popular and successful past exhibitions, and use these as a jumping off point to explore the collections.


All of this does mean that we'll unfortunately be without a website between the end of July, and October 2011. We're sorry not to be able to offer access to our collections database during this time, but we hope you'll agree that the new website will be worth the wait! And as ever, you'll be able to find all the latest MoDA news right here on the blog.

BADDA512
Image taken from the Time Furnishing Co. brochure, 1930s (BADDA512)

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Anyone for cricket?


ST41
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, ST41
















Today is National Cricket Day on Thursday 23rd June. It's not part of a ploy by the country's cricketing authorities to get us all to pick up a bat - it is actually aimed at schools and is part of the Chance to Shine campaign, providing cricket themed lessons and coaching.

All this talk of cricket reminds me of a 1950s printed textile we have in the museum's collections depicting a landscape design of cricketing scenes. The gentlemen cricketers are shown demonstrating five batting and bowling positions - I wonder if the cricket stars involved in National Cricket Day will be coaching school kids the same positions?



Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD19432





















The textile is from the Silver Studio Collection and was designed by Lewis Jones who worked at the Studio from 1910 until his death in 1953.

Monday, 13 June 2011

In the summer holidays...

Did you ever have to write an essay at school, entitled "What I did in my summer holidays?"

The Silver Studio mostly designed wallpapers and textiles, but the collection also contains a small number of designs for book covers, including this one for a story called "In the Summer Holidays".  The design features three sweet-looking schoolgirls with skipping ropes; we don't have the book itself so we've no way of knowing exactly what they got up to with them!

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD1092

























The author was Jennett Humphreys, and the book was published by Blackie and Son Ltd.  Blackie was a Glasgow firm, associated with the illustrator Talwin Morris and the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the influence of both of these can be seen in this book cover design.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rewarding Creativity

I love working with the many Art & Design students who use our collections to inspire their work. For most, visiting our Study Room is their first experience of working with an archive, and helping them to make connections between our collections and their own creative practice is both a pleasure and a privilege.

MoDA's Arthur Silver Award was set up specifically to encourage final year Middlesex Art & Design students to engage with our collections in this way. We'll shortly be announcing the winner of this year's Award, so it seems like a good time to catch up with our two previous winners.
Model from  Elena's catwalk show, 2009

BA Fashion student Elena Picone won the Award when it was first launched in 2009. She chose to create a menswear collection inspired by floral chintzes she discovered at MoDA. Two years after graduating she is an Assistant Designer for a new menswear brand, and had this to say about the Award:

"There is so much inspiration to gain at MoDA...The Arthur Silver Award is so important to not only challenge and drive students but to make them aware of the abundance of inspiration which is right under their noses!"

BA Applied Print student Annie Skipper was our winner in 2010. Annie used John Aldridge’s ‘Moss’ wallpaper from MoDA’s collections to inspire complex naturalistic patterns. The patterns she created were used to adorn a huge carved log seat and accompanying furniture in a range of mediums and textures. Having won the £1000 prize, Annie hoped to be able to buy her own printing screens and equipment to enable her to continue working post-graduation.


2010 Winner of the Arthur Silver Award,
Annie Skipper
So who will win this year's award?.....Watch this space!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Another Royal Wedding Story

With everyone's thoughts on the wedding of William and Catherine this week, I remembered that some designs in MoDA's Silver Studio collection have a royal connection.

The silk for the dress worn by Princess Mary of Teck at her marriage to George, Duke of York in 1893 was designed by Arthur Silver of the Silver Studio, and woven by Warner & Sons.

SD12366
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD12366














In true patriotic style, Princess Mary chose only British designers and manufacturers for her whole trousseau.  The design for the woven silk brocade of the wedding dress featured  roses, shamrocks and thistles symbolizing the nations of the United Kingdom.

SD12367
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD12367

















We don't know exactly how Arthur Silver came to be chosen as the designer of Mary's wedding dress fabric.  It will be interesting to see who has designed Catherine's dress, and to see whether the designer of the fabric gets mentioned at all!