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MoDA: Silver Studio Collection

MoDA: Silver Studio Collection

The Silver Studio collection

The Silver Studio was a commercial design practice, which between 1880 and 1963 completed more than 20,000 schemes for items such as furnishing fabrics, wallpapers, tablecovers, rugs and carpets.The Studio answered the needs of its customers, who were retailers and manufacturers at all levels of the market. Many of its clients were mass producers and Silver Studio designs therefore found their way into numerous British homes.

After it closed, the contents of the Silver Studio - artwork, record books, photographs, correspondence and so on - were given to Hornsey College of Art, which became part of what is now Middlesex University. This material is the focal collection of the Museum of Domestic Design &Architecture (MoDA). In 2008, the Silver Studio Collection was awarded Designated Status in recognition of its quality and importance as a national resource.

Collections care project funding

The Silver Studio contains many thousands of items which were never intended to be kept for posterity. Wallpapers, especially those from the cheaper end of the market, are inherently acidic, and hence particularly prone to deterioration. Textiles and designs are similarly fragile. With this in mind, MoDA has made it a priority to invest in conservation and collections care, to enable us to store items so that they can be handled appropriately.

Over the years, MoDA has been extremely successful in securing grants for collections care, often using small initial grants to leverage in large sums. During the 1990s, funding was received from HEFCE for basic cataloguing and conservation of textiles and wallpapers; and funding from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust enabled us to conserve some of the Silver Studio’s original diaries and letters. In 2003, a small sum was secured from the LMA (London Museums and Archives) for storage of Silver Studio textiles, which enabled us to secure a further £25,000 from the AHRB to employ a textile cataloguer. By 2007 we were able to tackle a large project, Interwar Suburban Style, involving around 3,000 of the Silver Studio’s original designs on paper, with the help of an AHRC grant of £42,000.

Outcomes

MoDA’s consistent approach to securing investment in the storage and cataloguing of the collections has meant that the majority of items in the Silver Studio collection are now available to be handled and used by students, researchers and members of the public without risk to the objects in the long term. It has also meant that more items in the collections have become available for inclusion in exhibitions, loans, and for use in articles etc.