Design Developing in All Directions

Max McClure_Bristol Bath Design_Museum Street Bristol_005

If I had to show a foreigner one English city and one only, to give him a balanced idea of English architecture, I should taken him… to Bristol, which has developed in all directions, and where nearly everything has happened. – Sir John Summerson

Diversity in design. A miscellany of making. Facts behind a façade. Bristol and Bath have historically ‘developed in all directions’ in terms of what has been designed and made here. Heavy engineering and industrial design have happened in Bath. Fashion and textile design have happened in Bristol. Wills and Imperial Tobacco’s world-famous cigarette cards, wigs for The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, the cranes that were aboard the Titanic, the location-specific ‘Bristol Byzantine’ architectural style – all designed and made here. At various points across time, Bath and Bristol have become well-known for an untold number of objects and ideas, some expected and some quite surprising. It is in that spirit that we have organised our upcoming symposium, Façade and Fact: Design Cultures of Bath & Bristol, 1700 to the Present.

Paralleling the focus of the Bristol & Bath by Design research project, Façade and Fact: Design Cultures of Bath & Bristol, 1700 to the Present will examine both the perceived and actual design identities of the region, as well as trace the social and cultural histories that have helped to establish Bristol and Bath as places for design and industry. It will reveal the contribution of design and design-led industries here over the last three centuries, exploring how the value of design to our area is far greater than generally recognised.

Presentations will cover a wide range of disciplinary perspectives, including historians, architectural historians, engineers, designers and collectors, and touch upon the historical and contemporary resonances of design in the Bristol and Bath city region. From Bristol, our speakers come to us from the University of Bristol, UWE and the Ken Stradling Collection, while from Bath we have presenters from Bath Spa University, the University of Bath, the Museum of Bath Architecture and George Bayntun. Talks will range from discussions of the importance of Bristol’s port in the development of the region’s industrial identity to the histories of bookbinding and furniture making. As they present on their specific areas of interest, they will be exploring and reflecting upon the following questions

  • How can we define the design identity of Bath and Bristol?
  • How can we use the historical experience of the Bath and Bristol region to write a history of design?
  • What role has design played in the history of manufacturing and engineering in the region?
  • What are the region’s characteristic resources for design and designers?
  • Which places within the region have historically been places for designing and making?
  • What objects are historically associated with having been designed or made in the region, and how are they reflected in current design culture?
  • Who are the firms, artists and designers in the region who have contributed to the development of the region’s design identity?
  • How has the region’s design reputation been impacted by its standard of making and manufacturing?
  • What part has the individual designer, artist or maker played in the development of a regional design identity?

This symposium will take place on Friday, 11th September 2015 at The Holburne Museum in Bath. Join us for an exciting day of the history of design and making in YOUR region. There’s plenty to be proud of.

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