NYSID's Archives & Special Collections by Guest Blogger Julie Sandy

This fall, the design showroom Kravet will be presenting an exhibit in the 69th St. Gallery, Pattern and Process: Selections from the Kravet Archive, which will feature materials pulled from their extensive textile history archives. In light of that, we want to highlight NYSID’s own small but rapidly growing Archives and Special Collections, which are under the umbrella of the Library and are geared toward scholarly research.

The Emily Malino Collection. Artwork for her book Super Living Rooms, published in 1976 by Random House.

These collections of primary source materials — from renderings and drawings; to business records, correspondence and magazine tears; to textile and wallpaper swatches, photographs and transparencies – document many aspects of the practice of interior design and the history of the profession. Our holdings include materials that record not only the 100-year history of the College itself, but also relate to student and faculty work, important alumni and a wide range of influential designers. We have fascinating and inspirational individuals represented in our Archives, such as mid-20th century women designing for high-profile contract clients (Sarah Tomerlin Lee and Emily Malino), retail, interior and theatre set designers (Tom Lee), wallpaper and textile designers and renderers (Joanne Nelsen and Joe Martin), antique reproduction furniture dealers (Yale Burge), designers for the InterContinental Hotel chain (Neal Prince and Joe Grusczak), and of course, material related to NYSID’s founder, Sherrill Whiton. We have back issues of trade journals, magazines and industry publications going back to the 1920’s!   

Also under NYSID’s Archives and Special Collections are our rare and unique books, over 625 volumes published between 1701 and 2018. Key areas of this book collection include: architectural folios with plans, elevations and drawings, 18th/19th century French interiors, books about furniture, woodwork and architectural details, beautiful Art Deco textile design books, and important early editions of design theory tomes such as “The True and the Beautiful” by John Ruskin. Within the NYU consortium that we are part of, almost half of the materials in our rare book collection are unique to NYSID.

Scans taken from Répertoire du goût moderne. No. 1-5. (1928). Paris: Lévy.

All of our Archives and Special Collections are available at NYSID students’ fingertips, by appointment uptown at the 70th Street building. As designers, researchers and scholars, it is so important to seek out primary sources — original documents, hand-drawn designs, first-hand accounts about people, places and events — because these materials are so rich with written and unwritten information. Unique stories can be found in archival records, seeds of ideas that don’t make it to a published book, historical evidence that can’t be found online, and these collections are a treasure trove. NYSID’s Archives and Special Collections exist to give access to this interesting history and important work in the profession of interior design, to inspire today’s students and tomorrow’s designers to look closer and dig deeper.

Scans taken from Maisons de France. (1950). Paris: Publications de France.

To explore NYSID's Archives and Special Collections further, please visit http://nysidarchives.libraryhost.com/

Phyllis Greer