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What is Design History?

This event marks the opening of Material History/ Virtual World, graduation show of the MA History of Design programme, run jointly by London-based Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum. It includes an address from the two Heads of Programme, Sarah Cheang (RCA) and James Ryan (V&A).

This is followed by a live panel discussion by some of the graduating students, who talk about the boundaries of the discipline, grapple with definitions, and consider the future of the field. The discussion ends with a Q&A where they will respond to questions and prompts from the audience.

Anna Talley's work on the MA focused on communication design in the 20th and 21st centuries, and her dissertation explores how Google uses design as a tool to augment the company’s neocolonial actions. More broadly, her interests include design history and the digital humanities and design curation.

Fleur Elkerton's postgraduate research broadly focuses on replication, reproduction and knowledge exchange of medieval design - in both modern and medieval contexts. Her dissertation examines medieval automata as highly technical objects, whilst exploring collaborative design practice in a world where the concept of ‘design’ didn’t yet exist.

Deepika Srivastava's work on the MA focused on how contemporary architectural practice in India can be studied through the lens of its day-to-day operations and the aspect of collaboration inherent in design production. She is a storyteller at heart, and for her, design history is a lens to understand the world, one design at a time.

ZeYi (Denise) Lai is a student at the V&A/RCA focusing on the material culture and spectacle of national development blueprints in her home country, Malaysia. ZeYi’s project Wawasan 2020 archive, conducted in collaboration with the Malaysia Design Archive, has recently been awarded the DHS Virtual Design History Student Award.

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