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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

The history of handbags

In Museums on November 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

Saw a great exhibition this weekend at the Antwerp Fashion Museum all about the Delvaux fashion house, Belgium’s leading manufacturer of luxury handbags. I know, handbags, who’s interested in that, right?

It was actually a really cleverly thought through exhibition with a great design, which allowed visitors to wander through the history of the company at their leisure. I saw just as many ladies gawping at the bags as I did chaps looking intently at the striking design of the space (and the photos of pretty models). And it was about much more than just bags – the way in which fashion has responded to changes in the way we travel, technology, surrealism, with changing materials. And even how branding and advertising have morphed over time, yet still staying true to the principles of the founders of the company.

Charles Delvaux owned a luxury travel goods business in Brussels (founded 1829, the year before the revolution which led to Belgian independence and thus older than Belgium itself!). Over the last 180 years they have gone on to produce travel goods – most famously bags – of incredibly high quality.


The exhibition used one of my favourite interpretive devices – the timeline – to great effect, placing key handbags in line with the development of the company.

And here’s a great way of displaying all the individual components which need to be individually cut to make one simple-looking bag.

The show gave me not only a sense of how these bags are made and the respect Belgians have for the brand (the royal family carry them) but also of the way a design house has interacted with European design history since the early 19th century. Well worth a visit.

(Open until Feb 2010, Entry €6.)

Broadcasting House on happiness

In happiness on November 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I always delight in listening to Broadcasting House on Radio 4 – on the Sundays when I’m up at 9am. Or on the podcast.

This week, they are apparently going to be talking about happiness.

They say: “Massive wins on the lottery, or divine views of land with loamy soil for the self-sufficient, or a soul mate by the sea? We’ve a rare insight into a sixty year study in the USA which has been devoted to discover what makes us happy. The answer might shock.”

What can they mean? I’ll be tuning in at 9am on Sunday 15 November. BBC Radio 4: 92-95 FM.

The ‘new’ New Bodleian

In Museum [Insider], new content on November 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm

The New Bodleian Library, part of the University of Oxford, isn’t that new. But it’s about to have a revamp. They are in the process of reworking the buildings which holds the special collections of the library – it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done.

And the sheer number of books being added to the giant collections of the Bodleian means they’re very nearly out of space in the city centre. So the University is building a high-density storage facility just outside Swindon – not too far away, so that books can be ferried back to the academic reading rooms pretty swiftly.

There’s a piece about the redevelopment of the Bodleian live now on Museum [Insider].

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