Leah Armstrong

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Shaking up old rules

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2011 at 12:31

Today, the news headlines are dominated by the historic revisions being made to the rules of Royal Succession, which will, among other things, mean that the next-in-line to the throne will be dictated by order of birth and not gender. As the Australian PM said today, to our ‘modern minds’, this could hardly be regarded as revolutionary or progressive stuff. It is simply amending a law that became outdated a long time ago. (The Royal Marriages Act which this will overrule was created in 1772).

With this in mind, I recently came across the revisions to the Code of Conduct of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers in 1985, which, as this picture shows, for the first time sought to neutralise the gender of the document, so that a designer is no longer ‘he’ or ‘his’, but ‘their’ or ‘they’. The society’s first Articles of Association in 1930s stated clearly in its explanation of terms that ‘words importing the masculine gender shall include the feminine gender’ and this remained consistent in the society’s publications until the 1980s.

Undoubtedly, the society had given women a voice before 1985. This gender revision to the code of conduct was not re-defining or revolutionary in any sense; people already knew that women could be practising designers. However, the official act of altering this terminology is significant, however retrospective it might be. 


‘The first of the 30s’

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2011 at 20:45

I came across a fascinating clip on the British Pathe film online archive today. The second part of a programme called ‘Time To Remember’, it focuses on the ‘first of the 30s’ and is very interesting to me because it provides a glimpse into the entry point for my research:

TIME TO REMEMBER – A NEW ERA 1931 – reel 2 – British Pathe

Clearly, the supposed ’emancipation’ of women becomes the main topic for consideration (and the narrator is fairly dubious and suspicious of that!). Of particular interest however, was the emphasis on ‘progress’, ‘science’ and the attitude that ‘the sky’s the limit’, which makes the period such an important one in terms of design. The scene of rambling clubs was also pertinent in terms of my research, since it reinforces the established idea of the 1930s as a period when clubs and societies mushroomed, giving way to a growth in ‘professional camaraderie’.