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Designing Britain 1945 - 1975 > Exhibiting Britain > Expo '67 > Expo Conclusion

How might the impact of the British Pavilion and Gardner’s contribution to it be assessed? Perhaps it is best understood in terms of the shifts in design culture which it represented.

As the comments of the critics already cited suggest, the consensus was that there was a clear discrepancy between the rather clumsy form of the Pavilion itself and that of its more innovative and imaginative contents. We might take this as evidence of an emerging dissatisfaction with the post-war modernism which had been established at BCMI and a desire to produce work which was more popular and less ‘high brow’. In the longer term this would lead to the postmodernism which is the dominant cultural attitude today.

A less serious and pompous approach underpinned Gardner’s section, ‘Britain Today’. There he deliberately counterpoised the old and the new, the traditional and the modern and incorporated new technologies of representation in order to convey the Britain of the late 1960s as a vibrant and progressive nation. This desire to represent Britain as a modernised, forward-looking country has certainly prevailed since Expo ’67. At Expo ’92, held in Seville, the British Pavilion was a high-tech building incorporating sustainable technology, designed by Nicholas Grimshaw.

Gardner’s role in ‘Britain Today’ also reveals much about how important designers had become since BCMI. It is significant that Gardner was allowed to produce his own script for the section. This was in contrast to the situation in 1946 when he and his fellow designers had little, if any, control over the content and programme of their sections. For Gardner to have been given ‘carte blanche’ in 1967 shows how, in just over twenty years, designers had achieved the ‘guru’ status they still enjoy today.
See Expo '67 Sources