‘I’m old-school,’ says Harriet Edquist, the first and current Director of the RMIT Design Archives. Also Professor of architectural history at the University, Harriet has researched and written about Australian architecture and design for many years. ‘The RMIT Design Archives came into being 10 years ago, and is a resource of material relating to Melbourne design from the twentieth century onwards,’ explains Harriet.
Celebrating the milestone of 10 years, the Archives’ commemorative Journal, published at the end of last year, documents a collection of 100 artifacts of Melbourne design. Each fascinating inclusion is presented alongside personal stories, authored by friends, associates, and colleagues of RMIT, that bring the unique history of each object to life. Harriet feels that having different voices talking about what design means to them illustrates the depth and range of the Design Archives, and hopes that the Journal will introduce objects that people have never seen before.
Available as either an e-book or in hardcopy, the distinctive journal is designed by Melbourne typographer Stephen Banham, who has guided the Archive’s publishing program from the beginning. ‘It sits well on a coffee table and is a celebration of local design culture in all its richness and diversity – from architecture to automotive,’ says Harriet.
‘One of the interesting things about Melbourne, is that this history has deep roots in the nineteenth century, and our architecture, design practice and innovation have been enabled by decades of cultural infrastructure – whether formal state-instituted galleries, museums, and schools or more informal galleries, patronage, private practices, studios, and collaboratives,’ adds the Professor. ‘The strength of Melbourne’s design culture today rests on these foundations, something we often forget. Archives help us to remember.’