Museum of Domestic design & Architecture

I found the MoDA's collections  an incredible resource for me and for anyone who is interested in  studying the history of domestic interiors, the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, is part of Middlesex University and is home to collections of wallpapers, textiles, designs, books, catalogues and magazines from the late 19th and 20th century, and in particular the work and records of the Silver Studio, a design practice which operated from 1880 to 1963.

Moda’s approach is to talk about wallpaper and furnishing in terms of choices influences by class and social aspiration. As part of my ongoing research into exploring wallpaper and its context across variant sources and Moda collection helped me see wallpaper from a new context other then just its aesthetics. My approach to this research relies on the deeply embedded cultural connotation of wallpaper. My intention with this visual research is to be able to understand wallpaper design by having a sense of original material, method and process used by wallpaper manufacturers. Also to use this collection as inspiration  for drawing upon my final show painting composition using my own inventory of patterns.

On my 2 days visit I discovered a vast range of original catalogue wallpaper collection, magazines and wallpaper industrial wallpaper samples. Firstly seeing the silver studio collection , it reflects on the changes in the techniques that designers use to create patterns for wallpapers and textiles.

Many of the Silver Studio’s designs were drawn by hand and painted using watercolours or gouache. These methods might not be used nowadays, but, the Silver Studio Collection remains a fascinating source of inspiration for today’s creative practitioners. I tried to gather as many visual inspiration of these collection as possible.

I met Zoe Hendon the head of the museum collection and Ana the museum assistant. Most of our conversation were about the seminal works produces in  the  1910- 1930’ s in Britain that has significantly contributed to the Wallpaper history. Few of the collection I saw were Collection of A Popular Art: British Wallpaper in 1930-1960 held in 1989, it could be said that popular art was the first publication to take a serious look at the cheaper and affordable wallpaper in the market.

“The decoration of the suburban Villa, 1880-1940”, exhibition from the Silver Studio Collection held in 1983. This  collection of advertisements and magazine was a response to the increasing trend when people began undertaking decorative tasks by themselves.

Recently I also visited the Liberty showroom in London at oxford street, and Ana mentioned me few samples and  how several Liberty designs are inspired from this  silver studio collection by many textile designers.

Other collection include:

First one is the silver studio and second is the

Japanese Katagami Stencils

MoDA has 400 Japanese katagami stencils which belonged to the Silver Studio. The stencils were produced in Japan as a way of applying patterns to fabric, mainly kimonos. The katagami collected by the Silver Studio all date from the 1860s and 70s, and were used by the Studio's designers as reference material via which to produce their own Japanese-inspired patterns.

The third one that I saw are the

Sonic Wallpapers by Dr. Felicity Ford

This project collection is very interesting because I find it as an attempt to brig a new dimension of interpretation that blends personal responses, nostalgia, imagination and something dreamlike to create a series of innovative art pieces which remains rooted in the everyday experience of living in the domestic wallpapered space. As a result Felicity has created 18 sound art pieces on the bases of public interpretation of the selected wallpapers, interviews and field recording. Here are few of the examples of wallpapers used.

Wallpaper has always celebrated the inherent nostalgia , domestic fantasy and home creativity connected within the most intimate place we live `Home’. Also wallpaper as an subject to study allowed me to explore an everday domestic material by learning its methods, techniques, conservation and meaning.

Archive storage room at MoDA