Matt has been collecting design books and ephemera for around a decade. What started as a way of researching, without having to look at the same library stack of library books, become an obsession of finding rare volumes, and spending hours looking for new, undiscovered items online.
Situated in Bradford, we don’t have a beaming design scene, arts-focused bookshops or places to find ephemera. What we do have though, is great space, people and real positivity and civic pride. Assembly Bradford become the home of Matts growing archive and within a few years the collection has doubled in size.
The thing he loves about collecting is, “every item leads to another. 1950s design magazines featuring poster designers, leaving me searching for monographs, monographs lead to catalogues and so on. My interests have broadened over the last few years, from Dutch design to Sculpture, to mid-century architecture magazines and stamps. Every item represents a time, a place, technological process, a certain stock, typeface, size. A piece of design ephemera is a collection of decisions presented in printed form.”
Whats in the collection?
The collection boasts 100’s of design magazines such as the Japanese Idea magazine, Industrial Design, an almost first 150 set of Graphis magazines, Gebrauchsgraphik, Novum and Fuse, Stacks and stacks of design monologues, manuals, poster books and design annuals. A vast collection of catalogues, from Stedelijk Museum, Film Festivals and Travel ephemera. Also boxes of stamps, matchbox labels and posters.
This vast archive contains work spanning from the 1890s to present day, but the majority of the collection was produced in the 1950s.
Utilising the collection
The archive doesn’t sit there gathering dust, it is used in design research, brand presentations and research for design projects. We use it to look at paper stock, binding, colour, design as well as to sit back and get fuelled with inspiration.
Matt also runs a design history Facebook group, which currently has over 13,000 members, with a shared passion for design history. With a similar profile set up on Twitter. Where possible in-between agency work, he shares findings, collections and inspiration with the members.