The design history reader

The design history reader, edited by Grace Lees-Maffei and Rebecca Houze, Berg, 2010.

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The first anthology to address design history as an established discipline, a field of study which is developing a contextualised understanding of the role of design and designed objects within social and cultural history. 

Extracts range from the eighteenth century, when design and manufacture separated, to the present day. Drawn from scholarly and polemical books, research articles, exhibition catalogues and magazines, the extracts are placed in themed sections, with each section separately introduced and concluded with an annotated guide to further reading.

Chapter 19. Utility Furniture and the Myth of Utility 1943-1948.

BEE Lion007The period between 1943 and 1948 represents a unique moment in English furniture history when the government took complete control of the furniture industry. Only a limited number of authorised firms could obtain timber for furniture production, and of those, each firm was authorised to manufacture a small range of furniture types, the designs for which were clearly laid down by the Board of Trade. For the potential purchaser of furniture supply was strictly rationed between February 1943 and June 1948. Furniture could only be purchased by those in possession of ‘units’ issued by the government. Initially units were only available to newly-weds setting up home for the first time, or to those replacing essential furniture damaged by bombing.

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