Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Job Vacancy at Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

Are you a bright and enthusiastic Museum Studies graduate looking to gain experience to kick-start your career? 

We are looking for a  Collections Assistant to support colleagues in the day to day running of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University.  The role will include a mixture of administrative and collections-related tasks, and is intended as a training role which would suit someone interested in pursuing a career in museums.

You will be enthusiastic about helping to maintain museum records in support of all areas of museum activity.  You might get involved with the preparation of e-newsletters and maintenance of the mailing list; you might also be helping with routine tasks such as object inventory checking and data entry.  A willingness to adopt new digital tools to ensure a high quality service to MoDA’s users would be an advantage, as would an awareness of social media. 

You will need a degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline,  and an interest in the subject areas covered by MoDA’s collections (history, design history, nineteenth and twentieth century decorative arts and design; see ).  A postgraduate qualification in Museum Studies or equivalent is desirable and some experience of working in a museum in either a paid or voluntary role is essential. 

This is a temporary post (maximum six months) which will not be renewed or lead to a further role. For more information about the museum in general please see the website ( and elsewhere on this blog.  More specific information relevant to this post can be found on the ‘Useful Documents’ page of the website:

Post title: LIB662 Collections Assistant
Salary:     £19,229 per annum including London Weighting
Period:     Full time, temporary (max 6 months)

Closing date:      4th February 2015
Proposed date for interviews:   19th February 2015

If you wish to apply for this post please complete an application form found at the bottom of the vacancy page of the Middlesex University website: 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Knitwear in Fashion: From Pringle to Pingouin

MoDA's Curator, Sim Panaser, finds woolly delight at the Fashion and Textiles Museum

I have not yet successfully learnt to knit, but I come from a long line of knitting afficionados and therefore have amassed a large collection of woolly garments that I hold dear.  So I was especially excited to see an exhibition of purl love, Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood at the Fashion and Textiles Museum last weekend.  The exhibition features an eclectic array of knitwear from the Victorian era to present day from the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield, who are avid and important collectors of antique and vintage clothing and accessories. 

Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood, Fashion and Textiles Museum

                                           Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood, Fashion and Textiles Museum

The Butterfields' love for knitting began in the 1960s with a jumper knitted by Cleo as a teenager from a 1940s pattern.  Their passion for anonymous hand knits together with machine knits and jerseys of Chanel to experimental high fashion is what make the exhibition so fantastic.  You can see recycled yarn "make do and mend" jumpers, an array of fair isle sweaters (which I particularly coveted) alongside Comme des Garçons and Vivienne Westwood designs.  

Here at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) we have a collection of knitting patterns, magazines and advertising dating from the 1940s to 1980s. I have chosen a selection below that mirror the themes of the Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood exhibition from elegance of the twinset to 1980s excess.  

Below is a 1940s catalogue from the London department store Marshall and Snelgrove featuring their Spring collection of knitwear. 

Fully fashioned lambswool and cashmere
Badda73, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

The glamorous jewel coloured cocktail sweaters with defined waists and decorative necklines that feature on the right hand side of the page became popular in the late 1940s. They were worn with a pencil skirt or full skirt for a contemporary evening look.   


 Glamour from Italy and be suited for the Spring
Badda73, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture 

In the 1980s classic yarns discovered fashion in the influential French Pingouin knitting magazine (see below).  During the 1980s Pingouin invited fashion designers including Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler to contribute patterns for the magazine, positioning knitwear as high fashion.  The magazine's editorial-style photography aligned it closely with high fashion magazines and showed how knitwear could be glamourous. Who wouldn't want to sip a martini in a luxe grey marl knit like the ones below? 

Pingouin Magazine, 1985
Badda4820 and Badda4824, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

If you would like to see more of MoDA’s collection relating to knitting and knitwear please get in touch

In the meantime make sure you go and see  Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood at the Fashion and Textiles Museum. You can only see the exhibition for the next few days as it closes this Sunday 18th of January. Get down there quick! 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Off the Shelf

Happy New Year! 

MoDA's Curator, Sim Panaser, takes a close look at one of the furniture catalogues in the Museum's collections.

Each month in Off the Shelf, I will be taking a closer look at book or catalogue in MoDA's collection.  To kick start January in style and help banish the excesses of the festive season, here is a 1962 furniture catalogue by Finmar, in which the graphic design mirrors clean lines, organic forms and a minimalist look indicative of the Scandinavian design that Finmar imported into Britain. 

1962 Finmar furniture catalogue cover featuring Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair

Finmar, a wholesaler and major importer of Scandinavian furniture to the UK was founded in 1934 by design reformer Philip Morton Shand.  Finmar introduced Alvar Aalto’s bent plywood furniture to pre-war British middles class homes.  Its popularity continued post-war albeit under the new ownership in 1949, with Dane Paul Ernst Stemann at its helm.  By 1954 Finmar was selling furniture to Heals and Liberty, had opened a large showroom on Kingly Street, London and was importing over 100 ranges of furniture from Scandinavia to Britain by designers included Fritz Hansen, Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner.   

Finmar employed the graphic designer Richard Hollis (b.1934) to design their 1962 furniture catalogue.  By 1962 Hollis was gaining a reputation as an eminent designer and he followed in Finmar's tradition of working with cutting-edge graphic designers.  Prior to Hollis, Finmar employed Hans Schleger (1898-1976), an eminent graphic designer who pioneered the idea of a corporate identity and worked with clients including Shell and London Transport.  The front cover of this catalogue features Schleger's Finmar font and tree logo.   

The catalogue is aimed at an audience of architects and buyers and is divided into sections by coloured paper.  Each divider features a strong graphic image of Finmar furniture and in the examples below; components of Finmar furniture appear as abstracts works of art.      

                                                          1962 Finmar furniture catalogue 

Less abstract images particularly of chairs are featured too. In the examples below the images of the furniture appear flattened emphasising the curvilinear silhouette of the chairs. Each divider of this catalogue is delivered with an arresting image designed to make the viewer stop and pause before moving into the next section.   

                                                           1962 Finmar furniture catalogue 

Hollis has also carefully considered the listing of the furniture itself. On the page below the chairs are shown at different angles and sizes, their positioning on the page gradually draws the viewer's eye down towards the bottom of the page.  The large amount of clear space gives the catalogue a lightness. Hollis' fantastic graphic design mirrors Scandinavian design perfectly. 

                                                                            1962 Finmar furniture catalogue 

Finmar flourished during the post-war period with the growing general public interest in Scandinavian design and as Scandinavian design was championed by design reformers. However its success was short-lived and the firm went into receivership in 1964.  The fantastic film Living Finmar, charts the rise and fall of the company and features interviews with those involved.  A trailer for the film can be seen below.

Living Finmar. Documentary Trailer from Dan Fontanelli on Vimeo.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Hasler Happy Christmas

Have you sent your Christmas cards?  I must admit I haven't and it appears I am not alone, with a recent article in the The Guardian asking if, 2014 is the year that the Christmas card died.  Below are a selection of fantastic Christmas cards from MoDA's collections that will inspire you to keep the tradition alive.

One of the things I enjoy most about working with MoDA collections is seeing everyday objects that are often overlooked afresh.  
This was the case when I opened a small and unassuming box of Christmas and New Year cards that were sent to the graphic designer Charles Hasler (1908-1992) during the 1950s. I was struck by the graphic design of each card, the carefully considered illustrations, typography and colourways, all designed to delight, entertain and surprise - truly capturing the spirit of the festive season.  Kept by Hasler for over thirty years these cards must have had a similar effect on him too. 

The next thing I noticed were the people who had sent the cards and who in some cases had designed them too.  These individuals were key figures in post-war design, a roll call of eminent designers and taste-makers of the day.  Not only reflecting Hasler's connection to them but positioning him among them.  Hasler worked as graphic designer for central government departments between 1942 and 1951, including the Ministry of Information and Festival of Britain, for which he was the Chairman of the Typography Panel.  He then went on to be a freelance designer and typographer and his impressive client list included British Rail and Architectural Review.  

Don't over-reach yourself during 1956  

I think this card may have been sent to Hasler from the designers Ronald Sandiford and Clifford Hatts, both of whom worked on the Festival of Britain displays.  Note the different names on this card, Ronald Sandidown instead of Sandiford and Clifford Upsiffats instead of Clifford Hatts.  The replacement suffix and prefix to their surnames create the word 'upsidown', mirroring the design of the card itself and perhaps an indication of the perils of over-reaching yourself.  

Greetings from Mr and Mrs Fishenden, 1954

R.B. Fishenden (1880-1956) was the eminent print consultant and editor of the Penrose Annual, a London based review of the graphic arts.  Hasler designed the 1957 volume of the annual which can be viewed here at MoDA.  More cards sent by Fishenden featuring fishy motifs can be seen in the Guildford School of Art archive at the UCA. Further information about the archive and both Mr and Mrs Fishenden can be found here.

Hoping you will be as well stuffed this Christmas, 1953

This Christmas card features a photograph of architect-designer and founder of the Design Research Unit, Misha Black (1910-1977).  Hasler worked with Black on the Ministry of Information's Greater London Plan exhibition in 1944 as well as the 1951 Festival of Britain. 
The portrait of Black, together with the message inside reflects Black's sense of humour and the hot pink interior adds to the irreverence.  

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 1954

This wonderful card in which the year 1954 literally disappears before your eyes was sent to Hasler by the Henrions.  Frederick Henri Kay Henrion (1914-1990) was an emigre graphic designer who worked for the Ministry of Information in 1942 and produced some of its most well known work including the 'Dig for Victory' poster.  Henrion's archive is located at the University of Brighton and contains references to Hasler indicating their connection.

If you would like to view any items from the Charles Hasler collection please contact us to make an appointment.   In the meantime wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  See you in 2015. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

"In Conversation" afternoons at MoDA in 2015

During 2014 we have run a series of collection sessions at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA).  We can now announce new sessions for 2015. These are informal talks lasting about an hour and a half, which offer an opportunity to see a selection of objects from the museum's collections, and discuss them with a member of staff.  We're aiming to provide an overview of the collections and provide a bit of background to what the museum holds. 

The next three sessions will be on a number of specific themes, so that each event will have a particular focus.  Places are free, but limited, so please sign up for the ones that interest you:

On January 28th the "In Conversation" afternoon is on Japanese Katagami Stencils, which were hand-crafted in Japan in the mid-late nineteenth century and were used to print beautiful and intricate designs on to fabric. Curator Maggie Wood will bring out a range of different designs from the collection which you can see and handle ‘up close’.  We’ll explore how the stencils were traditionally used in Japan, as well as their significance for Western artists and designers as ‘exotic’ artefacts from the East. 
Reserve your ticket now for the January date

Example of Katagami at MoDA, c.1870 (K1.20)

On February 25th Curator, Sim Panaser, will lead a session 'The Fabric of Modernity' which will take an in-depth look at the distinctive and bold furnishing fabrics made in Britain, from the height of the modern movement to the emergence of the ‘contemporary’ style of the 1950s. We will be exploring the production and consumption of these textiles, from the designers and studios that created them to how they were marketed and used both in the home and public spaces.  A range of textiles from MoDA’s collection will be available for you to see up-close and handle.  Highlights will include designs by Enid Marx, Edinburgh Weavers and Lucienne Day.  
Reserve your ticket now for the February date

Fabric designed by Jacqueline Groag, David Whitehead Ltd, 1952 (BADDA4629)

On March 25th the focus turns to conversation and preservation of the collections. 'Designs on Tracing Paper' will look at the many designs from MoDA's Silver Studio collection which are on tracing paper. These nineteenth and early twentieth century papers are very delicate and present a challenge to conservators.  Emma Shaw, MoDA's Preservation and Conservation Officer, will lead this session showing a range of designs on tracing paper and will explain the challenges and some of the solutions to preserving these designs. 
Reserve your ticket now for the March date

Design for textile on tracing paper, Silver Studio, 1916 (SD21205)

We hope these events will give a flavour of the wide variety of objects and themes we cover at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.  Places are limited, but don't worry if you can't make it this time - we'll be running similar events again in the future. 

These events are aimed at people who have a general interest in MoDA's collections, but who don't have a specific research question in mind.  If you would like to see the collections for your own research or personal interest you are welcome to make an appointment.  You don't need to be formally associated with an educational institution, but you will need to give us an idea of what you want to see.  Please contact the MoDA Study Room to discuss your interests in the collection and to arrange a time to visit.  

Last chance to see "Two Worlds in the Footsteps of the Silver Studio"

There is one more week to view "Two Worlds in the Footsteps of the Silver Studio" at the Hasler Gallery.

The work of designer Jo Angell and artist Katie Horwich brings together imagery from the Silver Studio of the 1890s, with current imagery found within the streets of North Finchley, to create an enchanting new world which transforms the familiar, and highlights the exotic.

Designer Jo Angell

Artist Kate Horwich
MoDA staff visited the gallery during the busy and successful Christmas Fayre. The Hasler Gallery is in the Grand Arcade in North Finchley - a  1930s shopping arcade which has been revamped with the help of a grant by the North Finchley Town Team

Come along and visit the installation for yourself before it closes next week. We will keep you informed of new displays in 2015.

Where:    The Hasler Gallery, Grand Arcade, North Finchley, London N12 0EH
When:     22nd November – 20th December 2014
The Hasler Gallery is open Thursdays and Fridays 12-6pm and Saturdays 12-4pm 
Or you can visit by appointment:

Liberty Style

Here at the  Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture we're pleased to have contributed in a small way to a new book about the iconic shop, Liberty Style, written by Martin Wood.

Promotional image for Liberty Style

The core collection of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) is that of the Silver Studio, an independent design studio who supplied designs for wallpapers and textiles to a large number of clients from the late 1800s to the mid 1960s.  Liberty was one of the Silver Studio's best customers throughout this whole period, and hence the histories of the two firms are closely related.

This latest book provides a fantastic overview of Liberty, tracing the story of this influential shop, with many excellent illustrations.  It would be a great Christmas present for anyone interested in the histories of design, textiles, interiors, fashion or shopping - a real treat!