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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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Origins and context

Well before the end of the Second World War the British government began to turn its attention towards preparing for peace and addressing the severe challenges of post-war reconstruction. The high economic cost of fighting the war meant that it was imperative that Britain rapidly regained a strong position in international trade. Not only was it essential that British industry was converted back to peacetime production as quickly as possible, but a major post-war export drive was also needed. It was in this context that some long-standing concerns about the standard of British design in relation to foreign competitors began to re-surface within government circles. These concerns were investigated by various committees, and proposals emerged for establishing an official design promotion body. Eventually the idea gained the backing of the government's Minister of Reconstruction and was endorsed by the Cabinet. Thus, in 1944 the Council of Industrial Design (CoID) was established with a mission 'to promote by all practicable means the improvement of design in the products of British Industry.'

The economic rationale for setting up the CoID was based on the recognition that improving the design of British-made goods would enable them to compete more effectively in both domestic and export markets. The CoID therefore sought to persuade British industrialists of the benefits of taking design more seriously and employ trained professional design staff or consultant designers. It also attempted to advise and 'educate' manufacturers, retailers and the wider British public in matters of design through exhibitions, publications and other media.



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