We are delighted to announce the publication of a recently published book that has its origins in the work of the Centre for Design History. In 2017, an international conference was held, marking the first collaboration between the Centre and Professor Alison J. Clarke and Dr Leah Armstrong of the University of Applied Arts Vienna. The conference brought together design scholars to address the history and present-day status of national and international design organizations, working across design disciplines and located in countries including Argentina, Belgium, Turkey, Estonia, Switzerland, Italy, China and the USA.

To give some background, in the second half of the 20th century, many non-governmental organizations were created to address urgent cultural, economic and welfare issues. Design organizations set out to create an international consensus for the future direction of design. This included enhancing communication between professionals, educators and practitioners, raising standards for design, and creating communities of designers across linguistic, national and political borders. Shared needs and agendas were identified and categories of design constantly defined and re-defined, often with overt cultural and political intents. From today’s points of view, the conference and subsequent anthology of essays offer the opportunity to question the aims and achievements of these organizations in light of their subsequent histories and their global remits. The Cold War period is central to the book, while many chapters draw on post-colonial perspectives to interpret how transnational networks and negotiations took place at events, congresses, and their varied publication initiatives.


Dora Souza Dias and Tania Messell at the exhibition in the foyer gallery at Grand Parade, the background shows posters and graphic designs from the ICSID and Icograda Archive, Design Archives, University of Brighton

Tania and Dora at the IDFO conference

At the time of the conference, two of the co-organisers were PhD candidates in History of Design – Dr Tania Messell, now Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland whose research looked at the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) and Dr Dora Souza Dias, now Lecturer in Graphic Design Theory and Practice at the University of the Arts London who researched the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) for her PhD.


The conference venue was in part informed by the location of the Design Archives at the University of Brighton where major archival holdings ICSID and Icograda are held. These were brought to the university by Professor Emeritus Jonathan Woodham and they regularly attract research visitors from across the world.

Exhibition Installation view

Exhibition installation view (photo: Dora Souza Dias)

image of a display case

Display case showing ICSID and Icograda publications (photo: Tania Messell)

International Design Organizations. Histories, Legacies, Values.

(Bloomsbury Visual Arts, London, New York, Oxford, New Delhi, Sydney, 2022)

Edited by Jeremy Aynsley (University of Brighton), Alison J. Clarke (University of Applied Arts Vienna) and Tania Messell (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland)

Find the book here – International Design Organisations