You may not be hoarder, but we all collect something whether we realise it or not. When you collect things, you are treasuring something from your past, a personal memory that is of value to you. Collections are an excellent source of inspiration—this inspiration could be some beautiful old packaging or just something that takes you back to your childhood and brings a smile to your face.
We asked different designers about their weird and wonderful collections and the stories behind them—when and where they started collecting them and what about them tugs at their heart strings.
Anthony Wood, Shillington’s Managing Director, has been collecting vintage cameras from all over the world since he graduated from a photography degree. Here’s what he had to say about his collection:
“My love of vintage cameras developed out of a rebellion to the technical after studying Photography at University. I was about to embark on a world trip, and decided that I wanted a camera that would allow me to simply point and shoot without obsessing over the technical details. After loads of research, I ended up importing an original 1985 Lomo LC-A that I bought off eBay and flew to NYC to start my travels. I loved this camera so much. The size, weight, the vignette, loading it with slide film and cross processing to get crazy “Instagram filters” long before Instagram. Sadly this camera got lost in the snow just two weeks into my trip, but it was just the beginning of my camera obsession. I bought another LC-A, followed by a Polaroid SLR 680, Holga 120, Fed 2 Rangefinder, Olympus XA2 and many more”
Designer at Paul Belford Ltd and Shillington London Graduate, Eleanor Robertson, started collecting menus when she worked in hospitality and had to do menu development as part of her marketing role. She told us about the history of her 500-strong collection:
“I started collecting menus about five years ago to research food trends. It was really good fun and I do miss the ‘competitor analysis’ (read: ‘three-course lunch’). Friends and family heard about my collection and started bringing them back for me from all around the world. I now collect them as a design resource, a bit obsessively (they are neatly alphabetised). My favourite is a colourful Gin & Cocktail menu from Graphic Bar with beautiful typography and stylish icons. I don’t take photos of my food, but if I haven’t asked if I can keep the menu, sometimes I wonder why I bothered eating the meal. Restaurants don’t tend to mind. I get the occasional odd look, but way fewer than I probably deserve.”
Sara Mazzoni, Shillington’s Head of Marketing and Communications, begun collecting pop-up books when she was little and hasn’t stopped since. We asked Sara what entices her about the books:
“I’ve collected pop-up books since I was around seven. They’re so fun and creative, and as an adult I can truly appreciate the design ingenuity and crafting! My library includes classics like The Jolly Postman, reimagined fairy tales Alice and Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, super educational Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs and a personal favourite (which I can’t find online) Magic Secrets, which literally created magic, and helped you perform tricks page-by-page. I can’t wait to share my collection with the next generation of our family!”
Michael Doolan, Shillington Melbourne Graduate and Designer at Tommy’s Gun, a national barbershop chain in Australia, started collecting pomade tins when he realised it was time for a haircut, and never looked back:
“I started collecting pomade tins a few years back (around the time I realised that long hair was no longer an acceptable life choice), mainly because they reminded me of the tobacco tins my grandfather would use when I was a kid, and the great memories I have of visiting him. What I find interesting about the brands I am drawn to is how the logos, colours and typographic choices create a quality of timelessness by balancing vintage and contemporary styles (the packaging for Cavalry designed by Adam Gower is a good example of this). It’s also handy that once they are empty of product, they are reusable. Now that I am working full time as an in-house designer for a barbershop, I am photographing and looking at pomade tins nearly every day, and the bold colours, contrast and typographic treatment inspires a lot of the way I design collateral for work. Needless to say, since commencing work at the barbershop my collection has kept growing rapidly.”
Freelance Designer and Shillington London Graduate, Daniel Kan, has been finding seeds and leaves across the world whenever he travels for the past five or six years. We asked Daniel why he started his collection:
“At the start I found a seed pod and was really fascinated by how complex it was. It was surprisingly big and heavy in the hand, rattling when you shook it, with pea sized red seeds encased inside. And since then the seeds have come to remind me of the places I’ve been, especially as they’re normally found while out walking rather than doing a specific activity, a little snapshot of banality going from one place to another, or out away from the city. For most of them I remember in quite a lot of detail where I was, what I was feeling, the frame of mind I was in at the time.”
Dina Shirin, Marketing and Communications Assistant at Shillington, started collecting Matryoshka Dolls, also known as Nesting Dolls, during her childhood growing up in Latvia. Dina told us what inspired her collection:
“The matryoshka nesting dolls are a popular folk art handicraft from Eastern Europe. I love the beautiful craftsmanship, vibrant colors and floral decoration of each doll. Growing up in Riga, Latvia and visiting Russia, many families had these dolls on the shelves of their home. Traditionally, each one wears a headscarf and a sarafan garment. Each doll comes with 7 smaller dolls stacked from the largest to the smallest—symbolizing motherhood, family and fertility. I’ve acquired my collection from gifts and antique markets I visited over the years and will continue adding more to my collection.”
Bobby Hendry’s, Designer at Brilliant Logic, Photographer at Idlewild Creative and Shillington Sydney Graduate, collection of Anne of Green Gables books truly started from nothing. Here’s her amazing story:
“When I was seven, I was dropped off at my first foster home with nothing but the clothes I was wearing. When they showed me to my room, there was a single bed, purple curtains, and a copy of Anne of Green Gables on the bedside table. I read it almost everyday after school; I absolutely loved it. I related to Anne. I was a fiery troublemaker, my life felt like a graveyard full of buried hopes. And all I wanted was for someone to love me and decide to keep me like Matthew and Marilla. I ended up finding that, and nowadays, I read AoGG about 10 times a year, and every time I find myself in a new town, I search for an op shop and scour its shelves for any copies to add to my collection.”
Wayne Smith, Shillington Melbourne Teacher, has been collecting records since he was a teenage DJ. Nowadays, he searches for records all over the world—from Colombia to India—and though his collection is immense, is particularly proud of his Reggae and Cumbia record collections. Here’s the full story behind his obsession:
“When I was 17 I got into electronic music and started deejaying. Back in those days, pretty much all music for deejaying was done with vinyl using the classic Technics 1210 turntables. I guess this is where my passion for vinyl began as I started spending all my money on Drum ‘n’ Bass and Techno records. Eventually I grew a little tired of the rave scene and started to buy other music that I liked on vinyl. The large format is so enticing with it’s big artwork and the sound is so much warmer than the flat coldness of digital MP3s. I soon had a pretty substantial collection of Funk, Reggae, Dub, Psychedelia and various African sounds. At the moment I like to incorporate record shopping with world travel. Recently I’ve been digging for Soul music in New York, Cumbia records in Bogotá and Bollywood vinyl in Mumbai.”
Artwork by Shillington London Teacher Kerry Neesam.
Have you got an interesting or unusual collection? Tweet us what’s on your shelves at home!
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