Ephemera and the design process

29 Mar

In celebration of Boston Design Week, I had the pleasure of visiting the Morse Study Room to view selections from the Print and Drawings Collection. Meghan Melvin, Sharf Curator for Design, selected a variety of ephemera that represent the stories and secrets of furniture design, textile and fashion, banking service, graphic art and even interior design for cars. I could have listened to Meghan talk for hours! Hopefully she did not sense my internal pandemonium as I forced myself to leave after the 30 minute tour. Tiny fireworks sparked ideas, evolving into whirling thoughts which eventually I distilled into four categories:

  • The ephemera of my design process
  • The challenges of conserving such an enormous range of objects and untangling their mysteries
  • The opportunities to research new project inspiration in museum collections
  • How digital design will change future ephemera: Will historians’ and curators’ work become easier or more difficult as our creative process and presentations transfer from physical to digital representation?

Historic New England encourages people to contribute supporting documentation and tools for their collection that reflects New England life. Perhaps the things we create should be documented more clearly? Should cleaning up after a finished design or quilt take on a different meaning?

Obviously, the thoughts are still whirling!

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