The day to day ticking over of the Archives tends to take centre-stage and due to time and/or space restrictions the way in which we approach conservation is not to go and seek out an object in need but to ‘let them come to us’, so to speak.
A few days ago our archivist was going through some boxes and came across a little booklet that went alongside the ‘Design at Home’ exhibition of furniture and furnishing from c. 1945. It is printed on poor quality paper and the staples have torn the fold so that most of the leaves are loose, with a few exceptions that were hanging on for dear life. The opening pages of the booklet read: “With the close of the European war, it is felt that an exhibition relating to the problem of home furnishing and decoration in the immediate post-war period would not be inappropriate. It is evident that mass-production of houses is necessary. It is equally necessary to combat the idea that these homes must look standardised. Anything that will encourage a display of individual taste and an interest in the pleasant task of home-making, beset by difficulties, though it may be, is to be desired. We have received the most friendly advice throughout from the Board of Trade, and it is most satisfactory to be able to record that the new Council of Industrial Design came into being during the period of the exhibition’s production, a welcome token of the Government’s determination to encourage the use of good design in industry.”
The booklet demonstrates good design options for a bachelor bed-sitting room, family sitting room, kitchen dining room, bedroom, gas working kitchen (designed and contributed by the British Gas Council), study lounge, dining room, lounge with dining alcove, electric working kitchen (designed and contributed by the British Electrical Development Association) and children’s room with some furnishing hints added to the end of it.
When we come across objects like this in our collections, we have to make a decision as to how to proceed. How long might conserving the object take? And ultimately, can we dedicate this time for it? Myself and our archivist Sue Breakell went through the different options and decided that right this moment it would take too much time to re-assemble the booklet. I removed the rusty staples holding a few leaves together and digitised the booklet in its entirety. The loose sheets were inserted individually into Melinex sleeves and grouped together with a brass paper clip. To minimise handling, I then created a PDF from the digitised pages for any future researchers to read on the screen.
I thought as a final note to round off the year I would share with you another Design Archives object needing attention. The below is a design created by HA Rothholz for ‘Frood’ – a frozen food brand of J. Lyons & Co. started in 1954. Perhaps heading to the shops and stocking up on some ‘frood’ to make the holiday season a little easier on yourselves would be advisable!
So… on that note, happy holidays and here’s to a prosperous 2013!
PS. Should you be interested to find out more about Rothholz, he is currently featured on the Archives Hub.