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Britain in the Fifties

Design and Aspiration

Past Exhibition

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Britain in the Fifties explores the history of post–war design through the experiences of the average British couple. The 1950s was a time when Britain, emerging from years of austerity and rationing, led the world in the quality and innovation of its decorative and applied arts, and when good design became affordable by all. Leading artists now chose to work for commercial design companies, and many became household names. In the years which followed the groundbreaking Festival of Britain of 1951, design played a crucial role in shaping and redefining the Brave New World of a modernising and increasingly prosperous Britain.

The exhibition looks at all aspects of 1950s design, both inside and outside the home: from Lucienne Day’s furnishing fabrics, Horrockses’ dresses and Robert Welch’s cutlery to Ken Wood’s Kenwood Chef, Enid Seeney’s ‘Homemaker’ ceramics and Alec Issigonis’ Mini. Visitors to this engaging retrospective will see a vision of the country sixty years ago as it draws together over 150 objects as diverse as a Vespa scooter, the original watercolour illustrations for the celebrated 1958 Ladybird book Shopping with Mother and posters by Enid Marx and Edward Bawden.


'Wrappings' kingfisher / red, © Image courtesy of Sanderson

Campden Toastrack, box & Design Centre kitemark label, 1956 © Robert Welch Designs Ltd,

Robert Welch drawing in first studio in the Old Silk Mill, Chipping Campden, 1955 © Robert Welch Design Archive

[pricing_table_event levels="exhibition,gold,"]
Functional, funky and from the Fifties: retro design is making a comeback
The Telegraph
This show offers a delightfully vivid and frequently highly amusing stroll down memory lane.
The Times
…everyday aspiration of the middle classes are explored with infectious exuberance
The Telegraph
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