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Design Council Slide Collection: an online guide to the resource

Dr Simon Ford and John Davis - Manchester Metropolitan University

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The Design Council Slide Collection comprises over 22,000 images, mainly of British design from the late 1940s to 1990. It was begun shortly after the Second World War by the Council of Industrial Design (CoID), an official design promotion organisation that was set up by the British government in 1944. The CoID was renamed the Design Council in 1972, and today it continues to fulfil the role of the UK's national strategic body for design.

The majority of images in the collection show products of various kinds, but there are also many images of architecture, urban design, interior design, graphic design, engineering design and corporate identity. However, the collection is more than an extensive record of British design over more than four decades. Because the collection originally supported the core educational and advisory role of the CoID/Design Council, it also forms a visual archive of the changing scope, policies and ethos of its parent organisation. Indeed, the collection contains a multitude of unique images that record many of the specific practices and techniques that the CoID/Design Council used in its efforts to improve and champion British design, and also influence the taste of consumers.

The following historical account of the CoID/Design Council up to early 1990s aims to demonstrate one of the key strengths of the collection - its coherence and integrity as a rich source of visual evidence relating to the strategies employed to reform and promote British design in the second half of the twentieth century. The significance of the material is highlighted further by locating the changing priorities and agendas of the CoID/Design Council within wider economic, social and political contexts.

Of course, there are many other perspectives from which the collection can be exploited as a valuable resource. For example, there are numerous images that show changing styles in design, or the emergence of new materials and product types during the period. Moreover, the possibilities of using the collection as a source of creative inspiration are infinite. We hope that this outline of the collection and its historical background will stimulate users to explore it from a wide range of different viewpoints.



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