Contemporary design, Britain in the 1950's

Ref: C2227562

This course will explore one of the most important and influential decades of the twentieth century. Following the devastation of the Second World War we will explore how the British Government recognised that good design meant good business. They promoted good design through exhibitions, promotional tours in schools culminating with the Festival of Britain in 1951. This mid-century event showcased the best news in every aspect of British culture.This course will feature the new generation of designers including Lucienne Day, Jessie Tait, Robin Day and Abram Games, who emerged from a war torn Britain to bring to the wider public good design known today as 'contemporary'

Additional information about this course

Course aim

This course will explore the contribution made by new designers emerging from the devastation following the Second World War. These pioneering designers brought new ideas about contemporary design which should be affordable to everyone.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This is a live lecture delivered by a subject specialist in an online webinar video learning platform. You will need to be able to access the internet on a device with speakers or earphones. There will be opportunities to take part in discussions and chats. If you’d like to know how to use Zoom please visit:
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • recognise how designers were able to start again after the devastation, limitations and lack of materials following the Second World War
  • identify the key factors that influenced the development of contemporary design in the fifties
  • recognise the influence of European design on designers working in the 1950's
  • express how the general public reacted to modern design
  • express my own opinions on what represented good design from the fifties

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • The tutor will provide information on further reading and places to visit to see examples of British design from the fifties.

Download full course information sheet

Contemporary design, Britain in the 1950's


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions
  • I declare that the address I have provided is correct and that I will provide evidence of this and my eligibility to live and work in the UK

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