Marcus and Jackson Text Essay

With Reference to the texts by Marcus and Jackson, describe the social, historical and/or technological changes which took place in the 1950’s, and assess their impacts on design in the period.

The devastation of World War Two heavily impacted the design industry. The shortage of materials meant that production and manufacturing of textiles came to a halt.

After the war people wanted to put the past behind them and look to the future of design. The Festival of Britain was a chance for the government to give the British people a feeling of recovery by showcasing new, fresh designs. “Design did not just have to be new, it had to be free of any reference to the decorative styles of the past” (Marcus, 1998, p.7).

The United states lost less money and people after the war so the impact of devastation was not as great therefore Modern design happened more quickly. “But the need to be modern was felt everywhere” (Marcus, 1998, p.7).

As factory production had been grounded there was a ‘revived admiration for the values of handcraftsmanship” (Marcus, 1998, p.8). A much needed desire for innovative, modern design flourished throughout Britain. Embracing elements of handcraftsmanship, organic shapes and geometric machine styles from earlier periods combined with optimistic colours helped shape the new style.


Along with two other female designers, Lucienne Day became one of the pioneers of contemporary design in the 1950’s. Her distinctive linear motifs and abstract patterns based on plant forms as well as the bold blocks of colour were loved by many. The optimistic message behind her designs was the reason for her success. Calyx was exhibited at the Festival of Britain and was the first design that brought her fame. ‘In the aftermath of the festival of Britain, the immediate task was to capitalize on the success of Calyx by putting more patterns into production of a similar style’ (Jackson, 2001, p.78).

1950’s was very much a time of social change. Broader class barriers and less distinction between the classes meant that it was not just the rich who could afford the desirable designs. More people were working and earning money which resulted in them spending more money on things like decorations for the home. ‘Although Lucienne preferred cotton and linen she was prepared to experiment with some of the cheaper synthetic fibres coming onto the market in an attempt to reach consumers from lower-income brackets” (Jackson, 2001, p.79).

Excited by the idea of expanding contemporary design to more consumers, Lucienne Day created a series of patterns for a variety of companies including the British Celanese, Edinburgh Weavers and Liberty. She had grabbed the opportunity to revitalize British homes with both hands and was not about to let go. “She was rightly credited with introducing a new creative freedom into British Textile Design” (Jackson, 2001, p.80).


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