Leah Armstrong

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Histories of the Social in Design

'Knowledge of design history' and 'Design History' were both removed from the 'asset map' by partipants at the AHRC ProtoPublics workshop

History doesn’t often make it onto the agenda in social design research. I was reminded of this in an ‘asset mapping’ exercise at the AHRC ProtoPublics Workshop, where participants were asked to write their ‘assets’ on post-it notes and arrange on tables under the themes of civic participation, mobilities, health and well-being and public space. The […]

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Prototyping social design research

ProtoPublics Sprint Workshop, Lancaster, 16-17 April 2015.

ProtoPublics Sprint Workshop, Lancaster, 16-17 April 2015. ‘Agile’, ‘creative’ and ‘participatory’ are not words usually associated with (what is sometimes perceived to be) the slow and exclusive world of academic research. But on 16-17 April, a group of 45 researchers from the arts and humanities got together in Lancaster to explore, test and push these boundaries at […]

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Fashioning Professionals: Reflections on a Symposium

Gaby Schreiber Industrial/Interior Designer (1916-1991).

Photographer: Bee & Watson, 1948.

Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.

  .   Photo: Gaby Schreiber Industrial/Interior Designer (1916-1991), Photographer: Bee & Watson, 1948, Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives.  What does it mean to be seen and represented as a ‘creative professional’? This was the question we set out to address on Friday 27th March at a symposium hosted by the V&A Research Department […]

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Fashion cycles and design culture

Design Culture Salon 12, V&A Museum

Anyone standing outside the disciplines of fashion and design research might be surprised to discover that conversations between the two are not as fluid or productive as they might be. Within the art school, for instance, the two are taught as quite distinct disciplines with their own traditions, cultures and identities. Recognising these boundaries and […]

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How is the Urban Mobile Cyclist Designed?

Salon panel from left to right: Rachel Aldred, Carlton Reid, Kat Jungnickel (Chair), Justin Spinney and Jenni Gwiazdowski.

Reflections on Design Culture Salon 10: How is the Urban Mobile Cyclist designed?  The question of whether or not you choose to cycle to work is more than a practical decision: it can reveal a lot about our gender, social background and personality. It also forces us to behave in particular ways. Friction between cyclists, […]

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Art School Educated: Reflections on a Conference

Dr Kate Aspinall delivering a paper entitled 'the Pasmore Report? Reflections on the Coldstream Report and its Legacy' at Art School Educated conference in Tate Britain, 11-12 September.

On 11-12 September I attended the Art School Educated conference at Tate Britain which represented the culmination of a five year AHRC funded research project investigating the impact of the art education on artistic production from the 1960s to the present day and its relationship to the wider themes of education, culture and society. The […]

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Gearing up for the next cycle: Design Culture Salon Series Three


Programming the Design Culture Salons, now entering their third series, is undoubtedly my favourite job here at the V&A Museum. It allows me to reflect upon some of the hot topics that are emerging in contemporary design and I spend a lot of time tracing these through conversations inside and outside the museum, with fellow researchers […]

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Louis Kahn: the architect’s architect?

Photo of Film poster, My Architect (2003).

The American architect Louis Kahn (1907-1974) is often described as ‘the architect’s architect’. This was how he was introduced to an audience gathered at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) yesterday evening for a special screening of the film My Architect, a documentary made by Kahn’s son Nathaniel, first released in 2003. As the President […]

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