Journal Article

Design in the British Toy Industry since 1945


in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 11, issue 4, pages 323-333
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI:
Design in the British Toy Industry since 1945

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  • History of Art
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This article examines the contribution of inadequate design to the virtual demise of the indigenous British toy industry from the 1970s onwards. The protection of the home market from 1932, and the unchallenging nature of the imperial markets to which the bulk of exports were directed, induced a degree of complacency among manufacturers which proved fatal in the more competitive international economic environment developing after the ending of the long post-war boom. A survey conducted by Children's play Activities (Ltd.) confirmed other evidence that lack of innovative concepts, poor product quality and outmoded design presentation were all important features of this lack of competitiveness.

The final part of the article attributes these desing defects to a lack of consumer research, and a corporate business culture which was resitant to collaborative work on design, marketing or production, and suspicious of designers lacking direct experience of the industry. There is also evidence to suggest that the manufacturers were suspicious of intellectual influences which were pushing toy design towards the educationally stimulating and the politically correct. Finally, it is noted that Britain lacked any significant supply of trained toy designers.

Keywords: Children's Play Activities (Ltd.); design; design history; Great Britain; product design; toys

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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