Finding aid: SIDA collection

Scope and content

The two main components of the SIDA collection are firstly, official foundation documents, minutes of committee meetings and AGMs, correspondence, membership lists, financial information, exhibition booklets and other papers relating to the operation of the Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA) and the SIDA Foundation, mostly between about 1963 and 2016 (though some photographs and booklets pre-date this). The second component is a collection of 28 oral histories with former members of SIDA, conducted by design historian Michael Bogle between 2010 and 2013 for the SIDA Foundation history program.

Last updated: 1 September 2019


Organisational history

The Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA) was a national organization which established the profession by determining practitioners’ eligibility and instigating professional codes of practice, improving tertiary education and promoting their work to the general public. Mary White, Don Johnston, Edmund Dykes, Don Shaw, Stuart Low, Margaret Lord and Marion Hall Best met in December 1950 to discuss a society to raise the standard of interior design in Australia. In 1951 the Society of Interior Designers was launched at a party attended by 80 supporters, with Johnston the first President of 20 members. Society membership lent designers credibility in an era when recognised qualifications were limited.

The organisation was initially called the Society of Interior Designers (SID) but with the addition of 'Australia' to the name in 1964, the name changed to Society of Interior Designers of Australia (and the acronym to SIDA). In that same year - 1964 - SIDA underwent an organisational overhaul when it was incorporated under the companies’ act. But the mission remained the same: ‘to advance the standards of interior design and decoration, to uphold a code of ethics and professional practices, to promote educational programmes with a view to improving the art of interior design and decoration.’ Leaders met in designers’ homes and, after 1977, at their national headquarters in Paddington. Sub-committees on education, exhibition rooms, wholesale and retail liaison, publicity and social events, worked hard to generate income and fulfil the mission of the society.

The 1970s saw a rapid increase in younger, independent designers as its membership reached more than 150. Interstate chapters were instigated in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia as SIDA became truly national. Strict control on admission and ethics meant the Society protected its status as a credible professional body, resisting pressure in the 1980s to become an industry association.

In 1998, SIDA amalgamated with the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), which became the official voice of interior designers in Australia. However, SIDA continued as the SIDA Foundation but with a more limited role as a type of Trust to provide money for scholarships, seminars and other worthwhile purposes involving interior design.  In 2017, the SIDA Foundation was deregistered and its assets disbursed.

For more information on SIDA and its history, click here…


The papers of the Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA) are comprised of different collections but emanate from two main sources. In 2012, the CSL&RC was donated official documents, member correspondence and much other printed material relating to the SIDA and the SIDA Foundation by the Estate of the late Leslie Walford. Walford had been active on the executive committee of SIDA for many years, and at times its Vice-President and President. This gift was part of a much larger donation from the estate comprising items relating to Walford’s career as an interior designer as well as personal and family papers.

The second donation came in two lots in 2016 and 2017 from the last SIDA Foundation President Ian Archibald. The first lot comprised a series of oral histories with former members and related research files compiled as part of the SIDA Foundation history program, 2010-13. The second lot followed at the time of deregistration of the SIDA Foundation and included more SIDA official documents and other printed material. A small amount of additional SIDA material has come from the Marion Hall Best collection.

Related material

Collections or archives of SIDA members and related organisations include the following:

Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection:
Marion Hall Best collection, 1930s-80s
Mardi McElvenny collection – interior design training, Shillito School of Design, 1966-68.
Leslie Walford collection (only the SIDA-related papers are included in this Finding Aid)

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) archives:
The Margaret Lord interior design archive 1930-75
The Mary White design archive 1950-80

State Library of NSW:
George Freedman interior design drawings, slides and colour transparencies, 1969-2016
Design Institute of Australia. New South Wales Chapter - Records, 1958-1987 + further records 1988-1994

National Library of Australia:
Warren T. Harding and David C. Lorimer (Décor Associates) photography collection of interior design [photos by David Beal]


For access to SIDA material, contact:

Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection (CSL&RC)
T 02 8239 2233

Download the Finding Aid

Download the Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA) finding aid in a print-friendly pdf format here:






SIDA logo

Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA) logo, design by Douglas Annand, 1965; from the flyer: 'At your service', Sydney, nd. Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums. SIDA Foundation archive, SIDA /C/3.


SIDA stories

To find out more about the Society of Interior Designers of Australia (SIDA), read the following stories:

1. An introduction to SIDA

2. SIDA: an advocate for a new profession

3. Rooms on view: SIDA's exhibitions

4. A full listing of SIDA's exhibitions and exhibitors



Part A: Meeting minutes + financials

Although historically perceived as a social group, SIDA was an organization committed to improving professional design practice amongst its members. Less than a year after its 1951 foundation, SIDA instigated a Good Design award to help consumers identify quality locally designed products. Rapid recognition of SIDA meant the society succeeded in playing an important role in educating the post-war consumer and enhancing the prestige of the new profession. … see more...

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
SIDA: Executive committee minutes, 1964-69

SIDA: Executive committee minutes, 1970-71

SIDA: Executive committee minutes, 1974-82, 1990

SIDA: AGM notices and minutes, 1964-83; 1990; 1997-98

SIDA: President’s reports, 1968-1981

SIDA: financial accounts, 1964-1983

SIDA: secretarial services, 1975-1978

SIDA: paper re insurance, 1967

Leslie Walford’s SIDA membership receipts, 1984-1988/89

SIDAF: Notices, proxies and minutes for SIDAF Annual General Meetings & Extraordinary General Meetings, 1998-2007

SIDAF: Executive committee minutes, 1998-2006

SIDAF: Financial Accounts, 1998-2007

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/A/1 [Box 1]
SID/SIDA:  Minutes of committee and general meetings, 1963-1967

SIDA/A/2 [Box 1]
SIDA:  Minutes of executive committee meetings, 1977-1979 + misc correspondence & membership lists

SIDA/A/3-4 [Box 1]
SIDA: Minutes of AGMs and special meetings, 1976-1998

SIDA/A/5-6 [Box 1]
Victorian Chapter SIDA:  Minutes of committee meetings, 1988-1989
Victorian Chapter SIDA:  Minutes of AGMs, 1987-1992

SIDA/A/8-11 [Box 2]
SIDA:  Minutes of committee meetings, June 1989-April 1998

Part B: Memoranda & Articles of Association + History

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
SIDA: Memorandum & Articles of Association 1964, 1979, 1987

SIDAF: Memorandum & Articles of Association, Trademark, Winding up proposals 2006-2007; and related

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/B/1 [Box 3]
SIDA: Certificate of Incorporation 1961 & Memorandum & Articles of Assoc 1964

SIDA/B/2 [Box 3]
SIDA: Memoranda and Articles of Association, 1979-1998

SIDAF/B/1 [Box 3]
SIDA Foundation: Executive committee & AGM minutes, 1998-2016

SIDAF/B/2 [Box 3]
SIDA Foundation: Tax status as a charitable foundation

SIDAF/B/3 [Box 3]
SIDA: Accounts of history of SIDA, 1976-2014

Part C: Members and correspondence

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
Correspondence, 1972-78 [includes: events for members; establishing state chapters; promotional material from furnishing suppliers; interior design education]

Correspondence, 1979-95

SIDA Interstate chapters: Victoria and Queensland, 1974-80

SIDA national headquarters Paddington NSW, 1977-78

SIDA membership lists and profiles, 1975-95

SIDA membership applications, 1973-83

SIDAF: Membership lists, 2002-2006

SIDAF: Correspondence  (including Grant funding submissions), 1998-2007

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/C/1-2 [Box 4]
SIDA: membership lists, 1964-1996

SIDA/C/3 [Box 4]
SIDA membership kits and information brochures, 1970s-1998

SIDAF/C [Box 4]
SIDA Foundation: membership lists, 2000-2016


Part D: Photographs

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/D/1 [Box 4]
Photographs:  6 x b&w photographs of Society of Interior Designers (SID) members at a ‘Benecke, Miss Carr, Shaw party’, held to celebrate the 2nd exhibition of the Society of Interior Designers held at Taubman’s Galleries in Miller Street, North Sydney in April 1955: members include Hilda Abbott, Marion Hall Best, Barbara Bridges, D Chalmers, Roger Dunn, Tom Gillies, Don Johnston, Stuart Low, Don Shaw, Ruth Sloane, Joyce Tebbutt, Mary White, Frank Wilson.

SIDA/D/2 [Box 4]
Photographs: mounted b&w photographic portrait of Joyce Tebbutt c1955.

SIDA/D/3 [Box 4]
Photographs: 2 x mounted colour photographs of members present at the inaugural meeting of the Queensland chapter of S.I.D.A. held on Sunday 18 July 1976.

SIDA/D/4 [Box 4]
Miscellaneous small photographs, including 16 x postcard-sized colour photographs of SIDA members and others at a social function, probably taken at Barbara Bridges’ Nelson Bay holiday home during a SIDA ‘Newcastle weekend’ held 2-3 August 1975. A few identified as Warren Head, Barbara Bridges, Stuart Symonds, Barry Little, Jeanie Little, Tony Parker, Leslie Walford; photograph of Meryl Hare 1996/1997; b&w photograph (Pat Purcell Photography) of Cabana showroom at Easter Show 1974.

SIDA/D/5 [Box 4]
Photographs: 8 x colour photographs taken at SIDA National Awards presentation held at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, 199?; 8 x colour photographs taken at SIDA National Awards presentation held at Grand Hyatt Melbourne, 199?; 20 x colour photographs taken at SIDA National Awards presentation held at Grand Hyatt Melbourne, 199?.


Part E: Personalities

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/E/1 [Box 5]
Cecily Adams: news clippings and ephemera, 1953-1960.

SIDAF/E/1 [Box 5]
SIDA or DIA members: obituaries and memorial booklets, 2011-2014: Merell Jean Browne 1935-2011; Tom Gillies 1928- 2011; Leslie Walford 1927-2012; John Coote 1949-2012; Stuart Rattle 1960-2014.

SIDAF/E/2 [Box 5]
Mossgreen auction catalogues for ‘Estate of Leslie Walford, 18 November 2012’ & ‘Contents of Musk Far, 1 June 2014’ [Stuart Rattle]; 3 x Margaret Lord dust-jackets: A decorator’s world; An interior decorator’s world; Interior decoration in practice; Profile of ‘Interior decorator Reg Riddell’ by Blazenka Brysha, 2013; copy of Daniel Thomas’s article ‘Marion Best’s mid-century modernity’ from Art and Australia vol.37 no.1 1999.


Part F: Newsletters & publications

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
SIDA: Newsletters, 1969-89

SIDAF: Newsletters, 1999-2003, 2007

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/F/1 [Box 6]
SIDA Newsletter, August/September 1975-1998

SIDAF/F/1 [Box 6]
SIDA Foundaiton Newsletter, 1999-2003 [incomplete]

SIDA/F/5 [Box 6]
SIDA Yearbook 1994-95 [pilot issue]

SIDA/F/6 [Box 6]
The Society of Interior Designers of Australia celebrates 25 years of design [published as insert to Belle magazine 1976]


Part G: Awards/events/scholarships/tours

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
SIDA: Education sub-committee, 1974-1975

Interior design courses [including The Nilsson School of Interior Design; The Warren Tschannen School of Interior Decorating; Rhodec International (Devon, England); RMIT, Carl Schwartz School of Interior Design and Decoration (New York); Randwick Technical College; New York School of Interior Design; Sydney College of the Arts]

SIDA National Interior Design Awards, 1996-1997

Proposed SIDA Western Australia tour, May-June 1977

1st ASEAN Interior Designers Congress, Singapore, August 1982

SIDA: seminars, 1973-1991

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/G/1 [Box 7]
SIDA Philippines tour, 1975

SIDA/G/2 [Box 7]
SIDA National Awards, 1994-1998

SIDA/G/3 [Box 7]
Interior Designex 1987-1998

SIDA/G/4 [Box 7]
Interior Design Courses

SIDAF/G/1 [Box 7]
SIDAF: Mary White Memorial Scholarship (UNSW); Profession al Development Scholarship (Design Centre Enmore), Travelling Scholarship (RMIT University)

SIDAF/G/2 [Box 7]
SIDA/SIDAF: Partnerships & Events: Designing in the 90s [SIDA Qld Chapter, 1991]; Bosch Design Competition 1992; Sotheby’s Decorator Show House 1996; Interior Designex 1992-1998; Vicente Wolf tour for RMIT 1998; and other ephemera


Part H: Miscellaneous

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/H/1 [Box 7]
SIDA letterhead, logos & bromides + lapel pin, stamp & ribbon

SIDA/H/2 [Box 7]
Miscellaneous collection of publications on furniture, interiors, design:
2 x trade product flyers for chairs: Figli di Amadeo Cassina Meda, Milano, 1970s?;
7 issues Furniture Trends, 1965-1974; 2 issues of Building Ideas, 1972-1974; 3 issues of Design in Australia, 1980-1982

DIA [Box 7]


Part I: International design organisations

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3
International Federation of Interior Designers (IFI), membership lists & articles of association, c1965-80

International Federation of Interior Designers (IFI), minutes and general assembly, 1977-1983

International Federation of Interior Designers (IFI), newsletter, 1978-1983


Part K: Exhibitions

From its inception, SIDA used exhibition rooms – temporary model displays open to the public - as an effective marketing and education tool. Such shows were not new, but SIDA’s were the first to show the work of a group of professional designers practicing in Sydney, rather than promoting products and trade. They were popular, with estimates of visitors of over 1000 per day attending venues in major Sydney department stores and home centres… see more...

CSL&RC MSS 1989/1:

Sydney's "Ten best dressed rooms", 1962: SID exhibition brochure

Rooms on view, 1967: 12 colour transparencies of SIDA display rooms

Rooms on view, 1967: SIDA exhibition brochure

Rooms on view 1971: colour transparencies of Marion Best Pty Ltd display room

Rooms on view 1971: SIDA exhibition brochure

CSL&RC MSS 2013/3:
Rooms on view, 1967: SIDA correspondence, colour photoprints, exhibition brochure

Rooms on view 1971: SIDA correspondence, colour photoprint

Ten best dressed rooms 1973: SIDA correspondence, photo negs, exhibition brochure

25 years of design, 1976: SIDA correspondence, exhibition brochure

Décor with black, 1980: SIDA correspondence

CSL&RC MSS 2017/4:
SIDA/F/3 [Box 6]
SID exhibition brochure: Society of interior designers (SID) first exhibition, 1953

SIDA/F/4 [Box 6]
SID exhibition brochure: 'Sydney's "Ten best dressed rooms"', 1962


Part O: Oral histories

SIDA/F/Oral histories
Interviews conducted with interior designers, some retired, by design historian, Michael Bogle, between 2010 and 2013 as part of the SIDA Foundation history program. A list of subjects comprised:

Anstee, Harley (Nexus Designs, Melbourne)
Badger, Langdon (Adelaide)
Brooks, Terry (Sydney)
Currey, Leslie (Marly; Riddell Marly, Melbourne)
Evatt, Lyndal (Artes Studios, Sydney)
Fisher, James (Riddell Marly Interior Design, Melbourne)
Forbes, David (Harry Seidler, Sydney; Borkenhagen & Forbes; Forbes & Harris)
Forbes, [Robert] Malcolm (Deric Deane Pty Ltd; Malcolm Forbes Decoration and Design, Sydney)
Foulds, Angus (Angus Foulds Interior Design, Adelaide)
Freedman, George (Marsh, Freedman Associates; George Freedman Associates, Sydney)
*Gillies, Thomas (Thomas Gillies, Interiors, Sydney)
Gyngell, Ann (Sydney)
Harding, W.T. [Tom] (Décor Associates, Sydney)
Hare, Meryl (Hare + Klein, Sydney)
Hayes, Babette (Sydney)
Heymans, David (David Heymans and Associates, Perth)
Le Lievre, Bill & Keera (William Le Lievre Interiors Pty Ltd, Melbourne)
Lorimer, David (Décor Associates, Sydney)
Marks, James (Radford Furnishings Pty Ltd, Melbourne)
OBryant, Anjel (Angel International, Sydney)
^Sabien, Ron (Brisbane)
Sheldrick, Murray (Melbourne)
Siede, Ray (Ray Siede Designs Pty Ltd, Sydney)
#Tebbutt, Joyce [Coplestone, Tigi] (Cabana, Sydney)
Thomson, Rob (Riddell Marly, Melbourne)
Van Leer, Dick (Artes Studios, Sydney)
Walford, Leslie (Sydney)

* Interviewed by Annalisa Capurro.
^ A written history (not oral history) first drafted by Ron Sabien from questions provided, and then completed by John Hazelgrove following further discussions with Sabien. John Hazelgrove worked for Ron Sabien for many years.
# Written responses to a questionnaire about Joyce Tebbutt by her daughter Tigi Coplestone.

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