Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Setting the Brief: Interior Design Students "Design a Hotel" Project

"Your client is an individual who has purchased the building, as well as some neighbouring buildings, that once housed the Silver Studio, a wallpaper and textile design company which was once very influential but closed in the 1960s."

"Your client wants to open a hotel that uses the fact that the Silver Studio existed there as a conceptual starting point. However your client wants the hotel to be modern, not old fashioned and dated."

"Using the work of the Silver Studio (you are asked) to create a contemporary, modern interior concept which is able to drive the philosophy of (your hotel) design."

Design for a trade card, Arthur Silver ,1884, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (SD 1076)
Sketch for a trade card showing the Brook Green street scene looking towards the Hammersmith Road ,
Arthur Silver  c. 1885, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (SE 501)


This was the brief given to 2nd Year Middlesex University Interior Design students last month. It was the starting point for an intense four week collaborative project with MoDA, during which the students were asked not only to get to grips with the idea of using museum objects as a source of inspiration, but also to take in to account all the practical issues involved in designing a hotel. Interior Design tutor Jon Mortimer came up with the brief:

"We in the Interior Design department are always looking out for exciting potential projects which combine an element of real world complications and issues, with the creative freedom that undergraduates thrive on.We researched the Silver Studio and soon decided that students would need a real site in which to locate their project - what better site than the original Silver Studio premises in Brook Green, Hammersmith. We were able to generate plans and sections of the site and its neighbouring properties and soon realised that it would provide an ideal hotel project site...With support from the team at MoDA we created a brief which asked the students to combine the historical resonance of the Silver Studio's heritage and practice, with the needs of a contemporary design hotel - a challenge they quickly rose to."

The students arrived at the MoDA Collections Centre in Beaufort Park full of enthusiasm and curiosity about the collections. I started by introducing the building they were being asked to work on: 84 Brook Green, home to the Silver family and where the Silver Studio operated for several years until growing success prompted a move to larger premises. I felt it was important that the students understood the building's dual function, and was able to show them a series of images of how the interior of the house looked around the turn of the century.

We don't have any photographs of the attic studio space at Brook Green, but we do have some images of the inside of the Studio in different premises. There is a real contrast between the well decorated, formal and  beautifully adorned rooms of the family home, and the practical, cluttered and slightly decaying interior of the Studio space. I hoped that the students would be able to get a sense of the atmosphere of 84 Brook Green when the Silvers had lived and worked there, and an appreciation of the life of the building.

The Drawing Room at 84 Brook Green, c.1900, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (BADDA 4602.1)

Could the students find a design solution that would allow the buildings history to filter through into the contemporary space they were being asked to create?  Would they be able to reconcile the idea of historical inspiration with the practical requirements of meeting a brief for a hotel design?  Working with students is always fascinating, and we looked forward to seeing what they would come up with. Keep an eye out for future blog entries charting the progress of this project.

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