Small Scale Dream House

V&A Museum of Childhood Teamed with 20 of London’s Best Artists and Designers to Create Magical, Miniature Rooms

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‘My motivation as a historian is to create an individualised path and to tell stories of individuals’ subjectivity of the past,’ curator at V&A Museum of Childhood, Alice Sage told us of their upcoming installation, Dream House. ‘That’s why we focused on this character based storytelling to make people empathise with those of the past, and imagine themselves in their situations.’ This installation, which is part of the museum’s Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House exhibition, has brought together the work of 20 of London’s best artists and designers, creating fascinating stories of some of the UK’s best-loved dolls’ houses.

‘Its not just about dollhouses, its about all houses. We’re using dollhouses to look at the history of domestic life. So we use the Georgian dollhouse to talk about the role of women in the home in Georgian times. What was it like to be the mistress of the home and to those have responsibilities?’

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Specially commissioned for Small Stories, the Dream House rooms range from an aquarium bathroom to a bear’s front room. Each of the scenes are brought to life by the characters and a narration or dialogue that visitors can activate at the push of a button. We explored more of these tiny worlds with Alice:

The Plus: What is it about dollhouses that have captivated people for so long?
Alice Sage:
The idea of the miniature is entrancing for people. The idea that you can hold things in your hand and take in an entire house in one look, one gaze, is captivating. There’s the combination of both familiar and strange involved in them.

TP: So would you say this exhibition and installation is as much for adults as it is for children?
AC:
It’s for a family audience. We wanted adults and children to come together and talk about homes of the past, what’s familiar, what’s different and learn something. But for the adults coming on their own there’s so much to enjoy.

TP: How did you go about selecting which designers would take part?
AC:
I chose people that I thought were doing interesting things but not dollhouse makers, or miniaturists, but people that made interesting full size furniture works, jewellery, and all different things. While they’re all London based designers we got really big names like PriestmanGoode who are huge international infrastructure designers and Dominic Wilcox who I think is an amazing conceptual designer. And we also have people who are just starting our in their careers.

Small Stories: At Home in a Dolls’ House opens at V&A Museum of Childhood on 13 December 2014 and runs until 6 September 2015.

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