Monday, 12 November 2012

The beasts have arrived...

Our exhibition Beastly Designs, which looks at animal influenced design, is now open.

Animals have evolved over thousands of years to maximise the potential of their most defining characteristics, for example the long grasping fingers and arms of an ape, the coiling of a snake, the far reaching, curving neck of the brontosaurus, the streamlined aerodynamics of birds, and arguably, the poise, elegance and adaptability of the human form.

Plastics have become capable over the last hundred years of greater transformation in form, feel, strength and colour than any other material group.

This exhibition explores the near infinite transformability of plastics through ways in which designers working in plastics have exploited the distinctive features of animals to enhance the functionality of products. The objects are not simply creatures in miniature, but practical purposeful products. Either the entire animal or a part of it has been utilised in design to fulfil a useful function that enhances a product through association and often also brings an element of humour.

The exhibition also explores aspects of bio-mimetic design and demonstrates the potential of plastics to imitate luxury materials derived from animals and, thus, how plastics help to save endangered species.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Monday, 29 October 2012

'Designing for the Rest of Us' - Design Innovation in Plastics 2012 Student Award at MoDiP

MoDiP is pleased to display most of the 2012 shortlisted entries to this prestigious student award as a result of its close relationship with the Worshipful Company of Horners, joint sponsor of the competition. Horn is a natural plastic. When it became evident that manufacturing in horn was no longer a viable industry the Horners adopted the plastics industry and they have now presented their outstanding collection of horn artefacts on
long-term loan to MoDiP so that it can be curated alongside  plastic artefacts. 

The Horner's Award display
The Student Plastics Design competition is held annually. It aims to encourage plastics design innovation and best practice in our future product designers. This year the brief, entitled ‘Universal Design: Designing for the Rest of Us’, was to design a product to help people with physical or cognitive impairments that is also appealing to a mass market. There were 92 entries and a short list of six.

FIRST PRZE: Flexible Flat-Pack Clothing Hanger, Jamie Mansfield, Furniture & Product Design Year 2, Nottingham Trent University 
Jamie wins £1000 plus a placement at Bayer MaterialScience

Jamie's Flat-Pack Clothing Hanger

The clothes hanger has flexible arms that collapse and spring back allowing the user to attach clothing via the neck without taking the hanger from the rail or undoing buttons.  It is also ideal for travelling as it packs flat. This is a completely original product that uses an integral mechanism not seen before. Jamie has already applied for a patent pending. 

Supporting documents provided by the designer:
JM pdf1, JM pdf2, JM pdf3, JM pdf4, JM pdf5

THIRD PRIZE: Sense See Remember,  Oliver Brunt, Design for Industry Year 2, Northumbria University
Oliver wins £250 and a placement at PDD Group Ltd

Oliver's Sense See Remember

'Sense See Remember' is an organisational memory aid based on a series of textured and coloured adhesive tabs  that act as prompts. 

Supporting documents provided by the designer:

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Floor Mouse, Gediminas Kuprys, Product Design Year 2, University of Bradford
Gediminas wins £100 and a placement at Hellermann Tyton

Gediminas' Floor Mouse

'Floor mouse' is a foot-operated computer mouse with options for using the foot control with a keyboard to suit personal needs and speeds.

Supporting documents provided by the designer:
GK pdf1, GK pdf2

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Clean-Cut,  Danny Lynch, Furniture and Product Design Year 2, Nottingham Trent University
Danny wins £100 and a placement at Brightworks


Danny' Clean-Cut

'Clean-Cut' is a tool to help those with visual or physical impairments to construct and cut sandwiches safely. 

Supporting documents provided by the designer:

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Plug Pull Adaptor, Michal Mojduszka, Product Design Year 2, University for the Creative Arts, Rochester
Michal wins £100 and a placement at Hi-Technology Group

Michal's Plug Pull Adaptor

'Plug Pull Adaptor' is a strip attachment, incorporating Braille, that makes identifying, using and removing plugs easier for everyone.

Supporting documents provided by the designer:

The Design Innovation in Plastics Award was established in 1985 and is the longest running student plastics design award in Europe. It is jointly sponsored and run by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and The Worshipful Company of Horners, with the continued support of Bayer MaterialScience as the principal industry sponsor. The award also acknowledges the support of Plastics Europe, the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, the companies who provided the placements and the following publications: NewDesign, Materials World and Mould Technology.

The theme for the 2013 Award is ‘Saving Lives – Design for Disaster Relief’. You can find out more at  All finalists receive a cash prize and a placement.

MoDiP would like to thank the winning students, Jamie Mansfield, Oliver Brunt, Gediminas Kuprys, Danny Lynch and Michal Mojduszka for making their models and texts available and also Sylvia Katz, Award Coordinator, for her advice and assistance.

Susan Lambert, (Head of MoDiP)

Thursday, 25 October 2012


When I saw @CultureThemes this month asking museums to get nautical with the theme #MuseumBoats I wasn’t convinced MoDiP would be able to join in the fun.  We don't have any marine oil paintings showing grand vessels taking to the sea or any actual boats in the collection; we wouldn’t have the space to store them.   However, when I gave the idea more thought I realised we had lots of things we could share:

Ship Shape
Ship Shape by Alessi

This little ship might not be sea worthy but it can certainly sail across the breakfast table and provide butter to spread on toast, the puff of steam conceals the knife handle.

Ahoi Juicer
Ahoi Juicer by Koziol

Keeping to breakfast this piece, resembling a paper boat, is designed to squeeze juice, containing liquid in its hull rather than floating on it.

The Gill jacket and Crewsaver Buoyancy aid, which are currently on display as part of Plastics for Gold, are for the sailor to wear to keep them safe, warm and dry.

Toy dinghy

Toy dinghy

This tiny toy dinghy, part of the PHS collection, might be too small to carry you on the ocean but it can sail away with your imagination.

Elliot camera

Elliot Pocket Camera
I may well be pushing the theme a little here, but how about a yacht shaped logo? The company that made this camera is called Elliot. Not an obvious logo, perhaps, but say the name slowly ELL-I-OT: L E Yacht!

Horn engraving

Powder horn & Beaker
These two objects from the Worshipful Company of Horner’s both depict engraving made of sailing ships. The beaker is more naïve in its execution whilst the powder horn has the addition of coloured pigment.


Lastly we have a number of photographic images of small and large boats which are part of an archive from BXL, a producer of plastics of many years now no longer trading.  We are still working our way through the documentation of this collection but so far I have come across images depicting:
the interior of the QEII
dinghies designed to be carried to the water on the roof of a car
and boats destined to be rowed across the oceans
OK, so some of these links to the #MuseumBoats theme may be more tenuous than others but I think I just may get away with it, what do you think?

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Plastics take a man to space, and bring him back down to Earth again.

Did you watch the amazing feat of Felix Baumgartner along with millions of people around the world last night? 

Red Bull Stratos is a scientific mission to 120,000 ft. Jumping from a stratospheric balloon one man will attempt to break the speed of sound in freefall.

The Balloon

Type: The balloon is filled with helium to create lift. Helium is non-flammable, non-toxic if vented to the atmosphere and a safe, predictable method of ascent.
Material: It is constructed of strips of high-performance polyethylene (plastic) film that is only 0.0008 inches thick. In total, these strips would cover 40 acres if they were laid flat. Polyester-fibre reinforced load tapes are incorporated to do the weight bearing.

Photograph courtesy Jörg Mitter, Red Bull Content Pool

The Parachute

No personal parachute system has ever been used for a supersonic freefall from the edge of space. Years of development and testing have resulted in innovations including revolutionary drogue technology to stabilize Felix Baumgartner if necessary.

Balazs Gardi/

Most normal parachutes are made of Nylon so it is probably safe to assume that this one was too.

Some people are comparing this record attempt as this generation's Moon landing, I am not sure that that is true but without the engagement of new materials including plastics, neither mission would have been possible.

Well done Felix!

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

How students and staff use the collection #8 - International Students

During the summer months of 2012 MoDiP has been busy supporting the work of the summer schools and our International students by providing access to the collections in a number of ways.

In July we were asked to provide a collection of brightly coloured artefacts to support the Fashion Studies Summer School work in trend and colour development. Plastics are ideally suited to this – the use of colour is something they demonstrate supremely well and by selecting artefacts from different eras we were able to show the students from Brazil how everyday objects reflect popular trends in colour and styling.



Summer School visitors from Japan benefited from being able to see a range of garments from the MoDiP collection at close quarters. They included this 1920’s dress with gold metalwork; a stunning black and pink layered 1950s dress, a 1960s shift dress and a pair of men’s platform shoes from the 1970s.  The garments were selected as being typical examples of their era and, together with other artefacts from the museum’s fashion collection, outlined the changes in fashion in the UK over a 50 year period.


AUCB’s international students were given a brief introduction to the Museum and its collections when they visited the Plastics for Gold exhibition in August. Coinciding with the Olympic and Paralympic Games the exhibition provided an opportunity to discuss something of topical interest and to encourage students to talk about design.  Using the ‘Family questionnaire’, designed to get visitors to look at specific points of interest in the exhibition, as a starting point,  MoDiP staff spent an enjoyable hour getting to know the International students and helping  them to realise the value of the collection as a primary research resource.




In addition, a range of fashion and International costume from MoDiP will be used to support a forthcoming lecture this autumn to be given by Val Greathead, entitled Research and Practice; the use of the object in initiating and developing creative ideas. Items selected for the lecture have provided us with the opportunity to realise the potential of some of the museum's less frequently used artefacts.

A range of international costume has also been loaned to a local school to support textile students in their studies.

We are looking forward to welcoming new students to MoDiP and to helping them make the most of this outstanding resource.
Pam Langdown (Collections Manager)



Monday, 23 July 2012

Tour de France

Wow! What a few weeks it has been for British cycling.  The usual ups and downs of the Tour de France, with mountains, sprints, crashes and amazing speed, all topped off with a stage victory and an historic British winner.  Congratulations to Bradeley Wiggins and all of Team Sky.

Plastics have fulfilled some very important roles within the race from the bikes and their components, through to the clothes, sunglasses and helmets worn by the riders.  I suspect that cycling is one of very few sports which relies so heavily on this family of materials. What other sports use plastics so heavily? Please leave us a comment below with you thoughts.

This Pinarello from the MoDiP collection has a carbon fibre frame and forks.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Cuartor)

Friday, 20 July 2012

A tough guess today

MoDiP has the kind of collection that you may think you are very familiar with. We have objects which we all use every day, and some pieces which are more unusual.

By looking at this distorted image are you able to guess what the object is? What do you think it could be used for?

Post your answer in the comments below or find out more about the object by looking at the MoDiP catalogue.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Olympic Torch

Tomorrow the Olympic torch will be coming within a stones throw of the Museum.  In celebration we thought we would share with you this sweet tube topper. He is holding up a torch from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

If sweet tube toppers do not light your fire we have a few torches in the collection which, although not taking part in the relay, may be of interest.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 6 July 2012

What could this be?

MoDiP has the kind of collection that you may think you are very familiar with. We have objects which we all use every day, and some pieces which are more unusual.

By looking at this distorted image are you able to guess what the object is? What do you think it could be used for?

Post your answer in the comments below or find out more about the object by looking at the MoDiP catalogue.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Teaching & Learning

The MoDiP website is developing all the time.  I have been recently concentrating on adding case studies to our Teaching & Learning pages.  For these projects we have worked with students at all stages of their AUCB life, from their very first assessed work to their Final Major Projects.

We have worked with Fine Art students in On Collecting, Defining Practices both projects offered an opportunity for them to respond to the collection or the notion of museums.

On Collectinig

Defining Practices

Fashion Design and Technology students used our collection to look come up with ideas for obscure objects in our Branding case study.


Our case study Visual explanation looks at the work of Illustration students describing how to use on object by using only images and symbols.

Visual Explanation

Interior Architecture students were given an object and a display case in which to display it in Objective Objects.

Objective Objects

Fantastic Plastic and Critical Review has seen the National Diploma Students in Art and Design work with us on a number of occasions.   

Fantastic Plastic

MoDiP has acted as client to Visual Communication students by providing a brief to design logos in Creating Identity.

Creating Identity

Textile design students have been Inspired by MoDiP and have created some wonderful patterns from shapes they have seen in our objects.

Inspired by MoDiP

Groupings of objects have enabled Graphic Design students to create assessed work in Typographic studies.

Typographic studies

And finally, for now, objects in the collection have offered Model Making students Direct Inspiration.
Direct Inspiration

We really enjoy seeing how the collection can help AUB students with their studies.  We also enjoy sharing it with AUB teaching staff and beyond in the hope that we can be a part of lots more exciting projects with both internal and external teaching staff.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Graduation Day

MoDiP would like to wish all the AUB students graduating today a fabulous day.

Congratulations and best wishes for the future.

Susan, Pam and Louise.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Guess the object

MoDiP has the kind of collection that you may think you are very familiar with. We have objects which we all use every day, and some pieces which are more unusual.

By looking at this distorted image are you able to guess what the object is? What do you think it could be used for?

Post your answer in the comments below or find out more about the object by looking at the MoDiP catalogue.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The past inspires the future continued

The pupils from Malmesbury Primary school also had the chance to view two exhibitions whilst they were visiting.

First of all they looked around our Work, Rest & Play exhibition.  They enjoyed looking at the toys and sports equipment in the play section, the portable record player in the rest section, and the adding machine in the work section.

The pupils also looked at the work of the AUB fine art students as part of our Defining Practices exhibition. 

The work was a great source of fascination for the children, as were the AUB students themselves. 

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)

Monday, 11 June 2012

The past inspires the future

In the middle of May we had a visit from 90 children from Malmesbury Park Primary School. They came to study the masks which we have in the collection.  Many of these masks were made in 1999 by costume students for the film Entrapment.  The children were making sketches in preparation for a day back at school when they would be making their own masks.  They were intrigued by the different styles of mask and the embellishments that had been used.

We had three groups of 30 children come throughout the day and we laid out the masks on three tables.  The masks on each table included traditional Venitian Carnival masks, masks made by past students, and those made by a costume company.

The children had the opportunity to move around the room and find their favourite masks to draw. 

They picked out masks which inspired them, which would help them design their own masks back at school.

The children were accompanied by a number of adults including teachers, classroom assistants and parents.

I think the adults enjoyed the day just as much as the children did.

The day resulted in some fantastic sketches. Some included notes about the materials used.  

Others were filled with the patterns shown on the fabrics.

The children were very good at capturing the shapes and outlines on the masks.

They were also very accomplished at capturing the details.

We very much enjoyed welcoming the children to MoDiP and would like to thank our colleagues in the AUB Widening Participation team for helping us prepare for the day.  It is possible that in a few years time some of these young people may remember their day at MoDiP and consider coming to the AUB to study.

Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)