Furniture Selection Committee at Britain Can Make It Exhibition

Members of the Furniture Selection Committee assess different designs submitted for the Britain Can Make It Exhibition, 1946. Reference number: DCA0420.

The Design Archives has been awarded a grant from the National Archives’ Collaborate and Innovate Archives Testbed fund, a scheme which supports innovation in archive practices and methods with the potential for transformative impact in the UK archives sector.  The project will establish a network of ‘critical friends’ from outside the university to work with Design Archives staff and collections, along with students and staff from teaching programmes in History of Art and DesignCurating Collections and HeritageFine Art and Creative Writing.

Titled ‘Creating, curating and consuming the archive: an integrated frame for investigating diversity’, this project responds to the increasingly widespread drive for decolonisation across the archive and museum sectors.  Among different strands looking at the Design Archives collections and practices, the project will look at records of the Britain Can Make It exhibition at London’s V&A Museum, which presents as largely silent on the contribution of the people and resources of the British Empire, soon to become the Commonwealth. The project seeks to open new narratives and perspectives on these events and materials, and will run through the academic year 2021/2.

The university’s Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise Andrew Church said: “We are delighted to work with the National Archives, harnessing the Design Archives’ distinctive position bridging higher education and heritage. The project makes a critical, practice-led contribution to student experience and learning at Brighton, and to the university’s ongoing work to improve equality.” Sue Breakell, Design Archives Leader and Principal Research Fellow, said: “We’re grateful to the National Archives for supporting this collaborative work to develop new, more inclusive understandings of our collections and practices. We look forward to sharing our learning with the sector.”