Monday, 28 May 2012

Print Clash - British Design at the V&A

This dazzling booklet, Britain in Brussels, (Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture- JMR1177) from 1958 features an array of clashing patterns and colours. 

Britain in Brussels, drawings by Barbara Jones, London; Central Office of Information, 1958. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, JMR1177.

The current exhibition at the V&A British Design 1948-2012 showcases 60 years of British design including many exciting patterns and prints like the ones featured here. The V&A exhibition shows that designers have constantly reacted to, and resurrected, older styles to inspire new ones. This continues today as current fashion designers have been looking to the past for ideas.  

Bold patterns and prints are big news in the fashion world, with clashing prints a major trend at Miu Miu, and Dior and Prada using retro Hawaiian shirts in both their men’s and women’s collections.

Blogs like patternbank and contemporary designers like Mary Katrantzou show that pattern is a vital part of design today. What could you make out of these retro designs?

Friday, 25 May 2012

Day 8 - Wales

This book from MoDA's collection features the British Empire Panels by Anglo-Welsh artist, Frank Brangwyn (1867- 1956). These panels are in Swansea where the Olympic Torch will arrive tomorrow.

The British Empire Panels by Frank Brangwyn R.A, by Frank Rutter, Leigh-on-Sea: F. Lewis Ltd, 1933. Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, BADDA3374.

This richly decorated series of 17 panels celebrates and commemorates lives lost in the First World War. Using a pattern of rich foliage, Brangwyn incorporates the national floral and fauna of the allied nations.

At MoDA we have many books on plants and animals which offer a range of illustration styles. The British Empire Panels has examples of Brangwyn’s beautifully observed preliminary sketches and show how the panel designs changed and developed over time.

If, like the Olympic Torch, you find yourself in Swansea, why not go and have a look at them and let us know what you think?

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Day 4 - Somerset

As we limber up for the first leg of the relay the torch passes through the historic county of Somerset, home of the city of Bath. Here's a book from MoDA's collection that offers a less picturesque view of this usually pretty city.

A dystopian future for Bath?
The Sack of Bath, Adam Fregusson, 1973, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, JMR447.
The Sack of Bath is about the threat of destruction to Bath's Regency architecture as development in the city encroached on it's historic buildings in the 1970s. This cover image shows the potential terrible consequences of  not looking after the city's architectural heritage by using a dramatic image and evocative title.The famously elegant  and beautiful buildings usually top the league as a tourist attraction. However, this vision of Bath  wouldn't win any medals for beauty or cleanliness!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Ready, Steady, Go!

Tomorrow sees the beginning of the Olympic Torch  relay around Britain. Starting at Land's End the torch will travel 8,000 miles over 70 days stopping at over 1,000 towns and cities. 

The Torch will be stopping at Middlesex University on the 25th July, just two days before the games begin. MoDA will be tracking the progress of the Olympic Torch using our extensive book collection. As well as traditional architecture and guide books that relate to the locations, we will offer alternative takes on the torch destinations and the Olympics .

And So To Begin kicks off our Olympic relay through the book collection. Although this pamphlet is about sewing, the title sets the pace for our sprint through the book collection.
And So To Begin, Needlework Development Scheme, ca.1950., Museum of Domestic Design &Architecture, BADDA4189.
Look out for our posts over the next couple of months charting  the torch's progress.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Modernist Icons at MoDA

At MoDA we have two Faber and Faber books related to Ben Nicholson (1894-1982).; Circle, which he co-edited, and Art Now, which features his work on the cover.

Herbert Read, Art Now, Faber & Faber, 1960, Museum  of Domestic Design &  Architecture, JMR 596.
Circle, Co-edited by Ben Nicholson, Faber & Faber, 1971, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, JMR199.
Faber are well known for their strong branding. Both of these covers are from re-printed books from the 1960s and 1970s when Faber and Faber were using a black strip down the sides of their covers to denote cheaper paper back editions.

A simple design done well can go a long way. The classic Albertus font, made by in-house designer, Berthold Wolpe, makes Faber books instantly recognisable and has been in use since 1932, and continues to be used today. What other branding icons of the twentieth century can you think of?

To see more of Nicholson's work visit the Mondrian Nicholson in Parallel exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, London until the 20th May.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Bauhaus at the Barbican

As a fan of Modernism, I’m very excited about the Bauhaus:Art and Life exhibition opening today at the Barbican Centre, London. It is the first such exhibition in the UK for over 40 years and is a great opportunity to see art and design produced by the pioneering  German art school.

At MoDA , we have a catalogue from the first major Bauhaus retrospective in Britain, Jahre 50 Bauhaus. The exhibition celebrated 50 years since the school’s founding, and toured Britain, Germany and America.

Herbert Bayer, Jahre 50 Bauhaus, 1968, Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, JMR949.
The cover was designed by Herbert Bayer (1900-85), who studied at the Bauhaus under luminaries like Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Laszlo Moholy- Nagy. The unusual square format and text-less cover make it stand out from many of the books in the collection. It’s definitely one of my favourite covers and I look forward to seeing many more designs like it at the Barbican. If you get a chance to go along to the show, I’d love to hear your thoughts.