British Design From The ‘48 Austerity Olympics to Olympics 2012

Edited by : Eugenia Gotti – Architecture Department Editor –

Where: Victorian and Albert Museum

Exhibition: British Design 1948–2012: Innovation in the Modern Age

The Victorian & Albert Museum’s major spring exhibition shows the best of British design and creative talent from the 1948 ‘Austerity Olympics’ to the summer of 2012. The exhibition examines the ways in which artists and designers who were born, trained or working in the UK have produced innovative and internationally acclaimed works from post-war to the present day.

The exhibition is structured around three themes; Tradition and Modernity, Subversion, and Innovation and Creativity and broadly follows a chronological framework. It also examines the impact that Britain’s ideas-driven, creative economy has had on goods and design industries worldwide.

The first gallery focuses on the tensions between tradition and modernity in the years following World War II like the Festival of Britain (1951) and the Queen’s Coronation (1953) that played an important role in promoting modernisation and preserving British traditions and heritage.

The second section of the exhibition is dedicated to the subversive nature of British design from the 1960s to the 1990s. The central gallery is divided into studios structured around a central ‘street’ space that explore the counter-cultural movements from 1960s ‘Swinging London’, through to the 1970s punk scene and the emergence of ‘Cool Britannia’ in the 1990s.

The final section explores British creativity in relation to manufacturing industries, new technologies and architecture. During the post-war years, Britain was internationally renowned for its inventive product design and globally recognised for its feats of engineering from the Mini to Concorde. Since the oil crisis of the early 1970s traditional British manufacturing was in decline, while the nation’s service industries started to expand.

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