In 2005 Design Archives’ Deputy Curator Lesley Whitworth concluded her contribution to the multi-disciplinary ‘Cultures of Consumption’ research programme.  This ambitious 5 year programme was jointly funded by two UK research councils, the first such initiative by the ESRC and AHRC, and brought together leading researchers from across the social sciences, arts and humanities, to study consumption in a global context.  In addition to individual research commitments, programme members met regularly for the purposes of debate in a series of forums both public and closed.

Whitworth’s co-applicant was Dr Terry Gourvish, Director of the Business History Unit at LSE, where she was a Visiting Fellow and retains visiting status.

The project was called ‘Towards a Participatory Consumer Democracy: Britain, 1937-1987’ and examined early work undertaken by the Design Council and formative influences on key Council personnel.  It identified a radical agenda that championed among many things: higher design standards; popular engagement with design; and consumer education.  The results have been disseminated through conference presentations in Europe, the US and UK; and in a variety of published outputs.