art + design + style + ideas + junk

Fancy papers: design treasures from the Caroline Simpson Library

In interior design on 22 July 2009 at 12:56 pm

Caroline Simpson Library 1

“Seeing this collection is a challenge to your ideas about colour and pattern in the past,” says Megan Martin, Head of the Historic Houses Trust’s Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection.

Caroline Simpson Library 2

Indeed, flipping open a copy of Ackerman’s Repository of Art, a journal published in London from 1809 to 1828, reveals samples of vivid orange fabric with polka dots or vibrant pinks and yellows to be used as wall coverings, something you wouldn’t expect from Georgian times.

Caroline Simpson Library 3

The Caroline Simpson Library is a stunning resource for designers, homemakers, students and anyone working in visual media. Focused on the history of house and garden design in New South Wales, it houses over 2,000 manufacturers’ trade catalogues, more than 1,000 architectural pattern books and another 1,000 sample books taking in wall and floor coverings, soft furnishings and fabrics, and hardware and garden ornaments.

Caroline Simpson Library 6

Here are some more examples.

Caroline Simpson Library 4Wallpaper sample book from the early 1920s.

Caroline Simpson Library 5From an Art Nouveau colour and pattern guide Walls and Ceilings for the Modern House by paint maker Dodd & Oulton.

On Monday 3 August from 6pm, the Library will be displaying some of its treasures as part of the Sydney Design 09 festival, including pieces from the Marion Hall Best collection. The event is free but you will need to book on 8239 2211 as numbers are limited.

The Caroline Simpson Library and Research Collection is at 10 Macquarie St, Sydney, the site of the former Sydney Mint, and is open to the public Monday–Friday 9am–5pm. The library’s collections are also searchable online from here.

There are also two online exhibitions worth checking out: highlights of the Marion Hall Best collection here, and one about Sydney’s home furnishing stores from 1890-1960, here.

My thanks to Megan Martin, assistant curator Michael Lech, and Malkuth Damkar of Sydney design company Afficionados of the Nod.

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