It’s nearly 50 years since the Silver Studio collection of pattern design, books, magazines and ephemera was first given to Hornsey College of Art with the idea that it would be a useful resource for students.
The studio produced designs for wallpapers and textiles over the period between 1880 and the 1960s.
Now part of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) this designated collection is still being used extensively by students and researchers today.
MoDA’s Curator Sim Panaser has engaged with 300 Middlesex students from BA courses including Fashion Design, Design Crafts, Illustration and Photography over the course of this academic year.
“Students are always inspired by the breadth of MoDA’s collections. They get the unique chance to see and handle objects close up which is not possible in most museums and this enables them to undertake detailed visual research which helps to develop their own practice,” she says.
One of the big changes between 50 years ago and now is the fact that collections are available online.
“This year we’ve been working on a redesign of our website which will enable us to show not only the collections themselves, but also the interesting things that people do with them," Head of Collections Zoë Hendon explains.
MoDA recently contributed 500 images to the Visual Arts Data Service. The collaboration was made possible by the award of a small scholarship from Jisc – the project was selected to take part in Jisc’s Spotlight on the Digital resource discovery training programme pilot.
Even in this digital age, the museum is still interested in wallpaper, says Zoë: “This year we’ve been working on a project to carry out conservation work on three rare mid-century artist-designed hand-printed wallpaper albums from the late 1960s. These wallpapers are very popular with students because of their bold and colourful designs.”
This delicate project involves repairing physical damage to individual wallpaper pages and digitising the wallpapers for online access.
An exhibition about the Palladio wallpaper range will be on display in the Grove Atrium in September to coincide with the Design History Society conference ‘Design and Time’.
Middlesex PhD student Daniel Davies talks about the influential graphic designer Edward McKnight Kauffer, using examples from MoDA’s collections.
Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing Josie Barnard discusses the way that museum objects inspire creative writing for her and for Middlesex students.