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Design Council image archive goes online

Graphic Design

Posted by Mark Sinclair, 8 October 2009, 8:19    Permalink    Comments (6)

A selection of Marianne Straub's textile designs, used on British Railways in the 1960s

The Design Council's slide collection has been launched online as a database featuring 4,000 images of British design from the 1940s to the 1990s...

The Design Council – the national strategic body for UK design established in 1944 – owns thousands of images of a vast array of products (tableware, furniture, lighting etc), engineering components and machinery, as well photoraphy that relates to architectural projects, interior design, graphics and corporate identity.

Chair by Mary Little, postgraduate (furniture design ) RCA. October, 1985

Many of the images in their archives also record the Design Council's own activities and promotional work – photographs from the Britain Can Make It and Festival of Britain exhibitions also feature in the collection. 

Panasonic solar powered calculator, 1987. January, 1988

The slide collection was transferred to the Manchester Metropolitan University in 1995, and since then a series of digitisation projects have resulted in over 13,000 images (nearly two-thirds of the collection) being made available online through the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).

While many of the slides have understandably not stood up too well over time (the digitisation process has maintained all the visible scratches, not to mention some of the dubious lighting decisions made in the 1980s) the archive offers a great visual history of twentieth-century British design.

Ross Electronics radio. Design by Graham Thomson. Product Origination: Brand New, a division of Michael Peters Group, 1985

The Design Council slide collection can be viewed at, while all of the VADS collections are housed at

Woven Rug (wool and linen) by Tom Collins Designs. July / August, 1985



Such a brilliant resource and a fantastic celebration of British Design.
Oh gosh i hope there are some lovely typefaces.
2009-10-08 09:58:34

You know what they say, "You don't know where you're going 'til you know where you've been." Great resource for keeping British design thriving.
Chad's Eye View
2009-10-08 10:24:12

Amazing! I can't believe so many have been digitised for the public to view, that's brilliant! The Festival of Britain had some masterpieces (how could it not, when the likes of Misha Black were involved?) that deserve to be viewed by everyone.
2009-10-09 09:03:54

Thats brilliant - its as much about heritage as the National Trust is.
2009-10-13 09:14:14

Amazing, after all these years, the Ross Radio pops up again. Good to see old things being digitized and archived for all to access.

Anyway back to my drawing board as there's still life in this old boy yet.
Graham Thomson
2010-01-06 18:13:10

Thats brilliant - its as much about heritage as the National Trust is.
2010-03-12 22:17:25

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