25 March 2015 -

London College of Furniture- Fifty Years On

The London College of Furniture was formed in 1964, it had formally been the Shoreditch Technical College, and the shift in name signifies the aspiration of the staff to represent more that the local furniture and allied trades. The London College of Furniture was reaching beyond the confines of St. Leonards and East London, but rather sought to represent the furniture and furnishing trades across Britain. It was very successful in doing this and the institution gained a formidable reputation in the areas that it taught. These were furniture, musical instrument making, interior design and soft furnishing and later creative crafts, restoration and design for disability. All these aspect of the College are represented in the exhibition.

However, the London College of Furniture represented more than a series of course titles, and departments and the exhibition with the help of its archive and the many ex students and staff, old, accomplished and newly established have other narratives to tell, their stories of inspiration, renewal and representations of ourselves through design and making allow us to consider, admire and reflect.

The exhibition covers the time period from 1964, to the end of the London College of Furniture in 1990, but also follows the history of the descendant of the College to its current manifestation the Sir John Cass faculty of Art, Architecture and Design. The careers of its alumni and current staff who teach the courses whose heritage continues, develops and morphs is a constant rhythm that echo's the changing images of students over the decades. The faces, fashions and gender profiles, the politicalisation or the domesticity of student and staff, then and now, allow us to consider the altered landscape of education, the trades taught and in turn post industrial Britain. To dwell on perhaps what was lost, celebrate what was achieve and to take these with us in a post post industrial country we now occupy. The resurgence of design in Britain in all its representations and disciplines is one of the great successes of the Cass, London and Britain's present economy, the alumni illustrate that transformation.

Dr John Cross


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