An introduction to the Centre for Design History from the Director, Dr Annebella Pollen.
Welcome to the Centre for Design History! We bring together more than 50 University of Brighton specialist design historians who are conducting research and enterprise in partnership with local, national and international arts, culture and heritage institutions. The centre applies a cross-disciplinary perspective to understand how design in all its forms has shaped things, spaces and actions across time.
The research Centre for Design History examines the production and consumption of visual and material culture – images and things – in their widest social and cultural contexts across diverse histories and geographies.
We are committed to taking global perspectives on how colonial and post-colonial narratives of design have been constructed and to consider what voices and practices these exclude. We contribute to an ‘expanded field’ of design history that embraces the conjunction of professional and non-professional practices; digital and analogue artefacts; the de-centring of design practice away from the singular object to complex ecologies, objects and systems, the role of design and material culture in everyday life, and the embedding of design thinking into management and organisational processes.
The University of Brighton contributed significantly to the initial development of design history as a formal discipline in the late 1970s. Since then, it has been a leading institution for research and teaching in the subject, which is provided at all levels of the curriculum and by internationally recognised experts. The university has long been an international leader in postgraduate research in design history, with a thriving MA and PhD community, and it is the home of the internationally renowned University of Brighton Design Archives. The University of Brighton has created the platform upon which many leading professionals have built their careers in academia, archival practices, museums and other cultural and heritage organisations.
We continue to push the boundaries of research in the design history subject area, opening up new areas for research. Our current research focus is on decolonial approaches in our specialist strands: Graphic Design History; Fashion and Dress History; Museums, Archives and Collections; Transnational Design Histories. We develop our thinking and practices in dialogue with international colleagues and institutions through the establishment and development of new projects, publications and creative forms of engagement including curated exhibitions. Our members include scholars, archivists, curators, designers and museum and heritage professionals.
We welcome new collaborators at all career stages. We provide supervisory support for PhD design history candidates and host international visiting researchers. Contact us at CentreforDesignHistory@brighton.ac.uk for research consultancy and partnership across all our broad areas of design history expertise.