The Design History Reader edited by Grace Lees-Maffei and Rebecca Houze (Oxford: Berg 2010).

This is the first anthology to address Design History as an established discipline, a field of study which is developing a contextualised understanding of the role of design and designed objects within social and cultural history. Extracts range from the 18th Century, when design and manufacture separated, to the present day. Drawn from scholarly and polemical books, research articles, exhibition catalogues, and magazines, the extracts are placed in themed sections, with each section separately introduced and each concluded with an annotated guide to further reading. Covering both primary texts (such as the writings of designers and design reformers) and secondary texts (in the form of key works of design history), the reader provides an essential resource for understanding the history of design, the development of the discipline, and contemporary issues in design history and practice.

Based on The Design History Reader, I delivered a keynote lecture ‘What We Should Be Teaching Future Designers’, at the symposium ‘Teaching design theory to design students’, the Design History Society’s First Annual Teaching Design History Workshop, London Metropolitan University, September 2010. The Design History Reader was launched at a reception following the symposium.


The Design History Reader was supported with funding from a Design History Society Research Award, 2008/9. This £1500 award extended Berg’s permissions allowance and therefore enabled us to reproduce some great images in the book.

DHR_Cover_Feb_2010 copy.jpg

Reviews of The Design History Reader

  • Carma Gorman (2010) Design Issues 27 (1): 100-103.

  • DJ Huppatz (2011) Design and Culture 3 (2) 259-263.

  • Dr Jonathan Mekinda (2012) Journal of Design History 25 (4): 431-433.

  • Reviewed by Mary Loveday Edwards (2010) The Higher Education Academy Art Design and Media News (ADM_HEA News) 22 December.