Please join us for the first of two guest lectures presented by CDH co-organized in collaboration with the Module ‘Global Issues in Graphic Design’ on the MA History of Design and Material Culture.

5pm-6.30pm, Tuesday 23 March 2021

Dora Souza Dias (Brunel) – Rethinking Modernism: Design in the ‘Third World’

Despite the extensive adoption of the modernist design movement globally –or at least in many metropolitan centres and capitals of the world–, standard history books have tended to focus only on the development of design and its practice in the West, particularly Europe and the US. At the same time, design and designers based in other regions of the world have been portrayed as historical side notes.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case. In the last decades, design historians have been broadening their scope looking for more inclusive perspectives on design practice and its history, making it possible to find extensive literature on design history or design histories of many countries. Yet, these historians encounter a number of challenges.

Technological developments and the ease of international travel in the mid twentieth-century increased the traffic of information across the globe and put the timelines of Modernity and Modernism very closely together in many places. In some of these contexts, the adoption of modern habits and manners –defined in comparison with what occurred in the Europe and the US– has frequently been considered as the adoption of imported cultural models, resulting in many considering it as a symptom of the emergence of modern design in ‘Third World’ nations. This paper will look at some of these assumptions as well as at the practise of design in some parts of the ‘Third World’.


Dr Dora Souza Dias

Dora is a graphic design and design historian, who currently holds a lecturing position in Design at Brunel University in London. Her current research focuses on transnational professional design networks and the challenges of social, cultural and linguistic interactions within design practice. Among her most relevant work are the paper ‘International Design Organizations and the Study of Transnational Interactions: the Case of Icogradalatinoamérica80,’ published in 2019 and the co-edited second volume of the series “Histórias do Design no Brasil” published in 2014.


The talk will take place on MS Teams. To attend, please RSVP by 5pm 22 March 2021 to be added to the Teams group and receive joining instructions.