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Gordon Russell (1892—1980) designer and craftsman





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Design magazine was launched in 1949 as the official mouthpiece of the Council of Industrial Design (COID, later Design Council), its first issue carrying an article by COID director Gordon Russell entitled ‘Good Design is not a Luxury’. Well illustrated and informative, editorial policy sought to convince manufacturers and educators of the social and economic benefits of better standards of design and industry. Indirectly it also reflected the more widespread campaigning in design circles (of, for example, the Chartered Society of Designers) for greater professional recognition and increased status for the designer in industry and business. By the mid‐1950s it also attracted the attention of many overseas organizations committed to the principles of ‘Good Design’ and was read in almost 60 countries. Set in opposition to the growing tide of American consumer goods, ephemeral styling, and notions of obsolescence that gathered pace as the 1950s unfolded, Design adopted an interest in a more scientific approach to design matters. This was evidenced in a series of articles by L. Bruce Archer, himself influenced by the outlook of the Hochschule für Gestaltung at Ulm, Germany. From 1956 the magazine also began to publish regular reviews of engineering products. During the 1960s, reflecting a clear shift in outlook of the COID itself, increasing attention was also paid to engineering and capital goods, which culminated in the organization's redesignation as the Design Council in 1972. However, apart from a few feature articles, the magazine still paid comparatively scant attention to more popular ephemeral trends in consumption such as Pop, adhering instead to an outlook rooted in Modernism and notions of Good Design. By the 1980s, the increasing proliferation of magazines about ‘lifestyle’ design and the emergence of more lively and entertaining journals geared to the contemporary needs of the design profession, such as Blueprint and Design Week, signalled the growing difficulties in the market place for Design (paralleling both public and official views about its parent organization, the Design Council). Despite a revamping in terms of content and appearance, the latter by Pentagram in 1990, the magazine ceased publication in 1994 as the activities of the Design Council itself were severely curtailed by the Conservative government. It reappeared for a while in the following year as a promotional arm of the Design Council rather than a journal competing in the market place but no longer played a genuinely significant role in national or international design debates.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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