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Be proud of our country - go to ‘British Design - 1948 - 2012’ at the V&A

30 March 2012 Katie Moritz

This exhibition is an incredible showcase for British design and it reminded me how trailblazing Britain is and how much of culture we have influenced while remaining completely original and risk-taking.

It’s not every day you get to go to a private view at the V&A, but that’s what happened to me this week. My colleague, Andrea and I were invited to attend the private view of the new exhibition, ‘British Design - 1948 - 2012’.
 
It felt like a special evening straight away. Special lighting, flower arrangements and a beautiful display of stacked glasses on the information desk greeted me as I walked in. I was treated to sparkling champagne, delicious canapés and a speech from Richard Rogers (who designed the featured Lloyds building), before taking in the wonderful exhibition.
 
The show takes you on a journey from the first time we hosted the Olympic Games in 1948 to our hosting this year, in 2012. The first room explored ‘tradition and modernity’. I gawped at the epic stain glass windows and altar monuments from Coventry Cathedral and coronets and gowns worn by our royalty.
 
There were traffic lights, our iconic motorway signs and a replica Routemaster bus. The beautiful sketches and plans for the Festival of Britain reminded me a little bit of my own sketches. What an amazing event this must have been – including an enormous dome structure, long gone on the Southbank. Imagine.
 
I also loved the incredible textiles, jewellery and furniture in this room – they seemed so very, ‘now’.
 
The second room is called ‘Subversion’. I loved the beautiful black and white photography from the sixties and the original artwork for the Rolling Stones lips – just a bit of gouache on tracing paper over art board! There were some beautiful garments - such as a beautiful hand printed velvet suit by Paul Smith and an exquisite dress by Biba.
 
The final room is called ‘Innovation and Creativity’. We felt sad and nostalgic at the same time, looking at the model of Concorde. We resisted the urge to touch the beautiful champagne coloured Jaguar. We loved the candy coloured 80s dyson that reminded us of a retro hairdryer from our childhood. I loved the techy room with the giant Lemmings display and the LED lights dress (I want one). The exhibition finished with some incredible models of the Lloyds building, the gherkin and the Velodrome.

This exhibition is extremely varied and there's something for every specialist. There's Damien Hirst, photography, furniture, graphics, stain glass windows, town planning, set design and even a David Hockney early work.
 
This exhibition is an incredible showcase for British design and it reminded me how trailblazing Britain is and how much of culture we have influenced while remaining completely original and risk-taking. This is a fantastic exhibition, which I thoroughly recommend and it has left me wanting to get out my sketchbook and paints.

'British Design - 1048 - 2012' is on at the V&A from the 31st March to the 12th August, 2012. To find out more, visit the website here.
 

God Save the Queen poster promoting the Sex Pistols image credit: Jamie Reid
Jaguar E-Type image credit: Jaguar Heritage
Children crossing sign image credit: Margaret Calvert
Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympic Games image credit: Zaha Hadid Architects
 
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