Posted on 1/16/2012 8:14 AM by Grace Jeffers

Few design schools have materials libraries; but The California College of Art (CCA) has two!

Located in an old airplane hanger at 1111 Eighth Street in San Francisco, CCA hosts undergraduate and graduate programs in art, architecture, design, and writing.

The school hosts one materials library on the first floor, where it is easily accessed by all students, and a second materials library on the second floor next to the interior design department. The first library is referred to as “the new materials” library. The second has no official title but is commonly referred to as the “conventional materials library.” What’s the difference? Plenty!

The “new materials library” is more like Material ConneXion. The second is exactly like a resource library in an architecture or interior design firm. It hosts catalogs from manufacturers of products ranging from carpeting to wallcoverings and upholstery textiles.

The "conventional" resource library.

The "conventional" resource library.

Jake Sollins is the archivist at the new materials library. “In this library the materials are more touchy-feely. This is different from the materials upstairs which are more aesthetic. This collection features more performance products, in addition to some more novel decorative materials."

In the new material library, samples are hung on display racks. Additional samples are in bins and boxes below.

Librarian Jake Sollins assists students in finding interesting material solutions for their art and design projects.

The people who use our library tend to be more cross-disciplinary. In just the past week we had visitors from the MFA Sculpture, Industrial Design and Textile Departments," he explains.

I asked Sollins what were the most frequently asked questions he receives? He replied:

1.     How much does that cost?

2.     Is this green?

3.     What is it made of?

I also asked Sollins what were some of the most popular materials in his library. He replied:

1.     COLORPLY by Brookstone Veneers

2.     Microcare International BV textiles by Hybrids and Fusion

3.     Woven metal belting by GKD Metal Fabrics

If you would like to browse through CCA’s online database of materials click here:

Bio: Jeffers received her masters in Decorative Art History at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts and was one of the first in her field to focus her attention on materials instead of the objects that they became. Her pioneering work conserving the Ralph Wilson House in Temple, Texas was awarded the Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the house is the only structure on the National Register of Historic Places listed because of its use of material. Her approach is a synthesis of design history, materials science and cultural anthropology. And for the past eight years she has been working on an encyclopaedia of modern materials.