We have developed a progressive definition of design that is intended to include researchers of the visual and material world in the broadest sense.

Our Definition of Design

We move beyond Western, industrialised and commercialised hierarchies of modern design to consider the objects, spaces and images that are produced and consumed as part of all human activity. We consider the handmade, the unique, the digital and the ephemeral as well as the mechanised and mass-manufactured; we are interested in aesthetics, function and form but also emotions, senses, spaces, power structures, politics, ethics and systems of thought. While many of us engage with individual ‘designers’, we also privilege the amateur, the collective, the non-human, the consumer and the many other agents involved in the global production of images, spaces and objects. At the Centre for Design History, our methods and influences are inter-disciplinary, and our interests range from processes of making and consumption throughout history through to the present and future of the material world.

You can read more about our definition of ‘Design’ by clicking here.

Our Research Themes

The Centre for Design History currently organises its research by five main areas that serve to identify our thematic strengths. These are ‘Transnational Design Histories’, ‘Fashion and Dress Histories’, ‘Graphic Design Histories’, ‘Museums, Archives and Exhibitions’ and ‘Sustainability’. You can find out more about these themes by clicking here.

Themes are interconnected and many researchers work across and between them. Each area is led by a collective of CDH researchers that include established researchers, Early Career Researchers (ECRs) and PhD students. The area leads sit on the Centre’s Management Board which oversees the governance of the Centre.

Theme Leads

For 2023/2024, the theme leads (so far) are:

Transnational Design:

Dr Yunah Lee (Y.A.Lee@brighton.ac.uk)

Dr Jo Pilcher (J.Pilcher2@brighton.ac.uk)

PGR Kamal Badhey (K.Badhey@brighton.ac.uk)

Fashion and Dress History:

Dr Charlotte Nicklas (C.Nicklas@brighton.ac.uk)

Dr Veronica Isaac (V.T.Isaac@brighton.ac.uk)

Dr Suzanne Rowland (S.Rowland2@brighton.ac.uk)

Graphic Design: Professor Jeremy Aynsley (c/o centrefordesignhistory@brighton.ac.uk)

Dr Harriet Atkinson (H.Atkinson2@brighton.ac.uk)

Museums, Archives and Exhibitions:

Sue Breakell (S.M.Breakell@brighton.ac.uk)

Dr Eliza Tan (E.Tan@brighton.ac.uk)

PGR Laharee Mitra (L.Mitra@brighton.ac.uk)


Tom Ainsworth (T.Ainsworth@brighton.ac.uk)

Sally Sutherland (S.C.Sutherland@brighton.ac.uk)


Next, you might like to learn more about how to “Get Involved” by clicking here.