Building on the past, looking to the future: design history in the Twenty First Century

Jonathan Woodham

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Over the past forty years the history of design has grown out of all recognition as a serious field of academic study, research and scholarship. Interest in the discipline has also seen considerable development globally over the period although, more recently, this has perhaps accelerated as a result a number of international initiatives, beginning with an international conference at the University of Barcelona in 1999. Entitled ‘Historiar desde la periferia: historia e historias del diseño’, the conference sought to develop the profile of the subject in the Spanish-speaking world. The proceedings were published in the following year in which a follow-up conference was held in Havana, Cuba. After this, the idea of dissemination developed further with the holding of a third conference on design history and design studies in Istanbul in 2002, entitled ‘Mind the Map: Design History beyond Boundaries’ with a fourth planned in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2004. The increasingly ambitious agenda could be seen in the Mind the Map conference which comprised thirteen strands as well as a workshop on ‘ID in the Periphery: Historical Development Patterns of Industrial Design in Newly Industrializing Countries’. In one strand alone, ‘Design History Narratives: From Local to Global’ there were contributions from Britain, Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Turkey, Singapore and the United States. The significance of the inauguration of Design History Workshop Japan in November 2002, further disseminating research, pedagogy and publication in the discipline in another key geographical and linguistic arena, marks another important milestone in its dissemination and academic development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign History
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


  • Design
  • Design History
  • Historiography
  • Britain
  • Education


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