Lecture 011.007

THE FINITE NATURE OF PLASTICS
BY SUSANNE GRANER

Today, the collection of the Vitra Design Museum (VDM) con- stitutes one of the most significant documentations of industrial furniture design worldwide, with objects representing all of the major eras and stylistic periods from the beginning of the nine- teenth century to the present. The vast number of objects hence reflects the range of technologies and materials utilised over the course of the twentieth century, of which the synthetic materials will be the particular focus in this study. In response to the need to maintain and preserve these objects, the conservation studio for synthetic objects was established in 2003. Since then, the em- phasis on the conservation of modern materials has been evident.
This paper will focus on the everyday challenges posed by the preservation of these objects with specific reference to a less known part of the collection, namely 130 architectural models. Based on the experience gained from this work, further ideas concerning the tasks and aims of conservation treatment will be discussed. To conserve even the form or original colour of an object, the use of modern techniques such as 3D scanning or LAB colour measurement could be a step in the right direction. Over the past years and in preparation for the exhibition, some objects from the collection of the VDM have already been scanned. The pros and cons of these methods will be outlined.

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