Mid-Century Modern Design

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

This mid-century modern design course explores visually and contextually the exciting new forms, materials, and imagery of design between c.1940 and 1965, focussing on interiors, furniture, lighting, ceramics, glass, and textiles.

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with 12 hours of study over 6 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for 6 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

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course photo
Portrait of Course Leader Elisabeth Darby

Course Leader
Elisabeth Darby

Dr. Elisabeth Darby lectures on 19th, 20th and 21st century decorative arts and design, and was formerly Programme Director of the MA in Contemporary Design at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Her most recent book Re-Issue, Re-Imagine, Re-Make: Appropriation in Contemporary Furniture Design was published by Lund Humphries in 2020.

I love the opportunity to learn with people who are so knowledgeable and interesting. Previous V&A Academy Student

Course overview

In the aftermath of World War II, and against the backdrop of Cold War politics, design assumed an important role in the reconstruction of economies and national identities. Governments, organisations, companies, and individuals sought to promote modern design to a public which had suffered privations and rationing since the Depression of the 1930s. New materials and processes, original forms and inventive imagery generated exciting new visions of the domestic space and its furnishings, offered the possibility of a brighter future for all, and fuelled the optimism of the age. Key figures including Charles & Ray Eames, Gio Ponti, Hans Wegner, Robin & Lucienne Day, Timo Sarpaneva, and Tapio Wirkkala, and companies such as Iittala, Arabia, Venini, Herman Miller and Knoll, all contributed to the development of the ‘new look’ of mid-century modern design. The diverse and exciting range of objects created between c.1940 and 1965 is examined visually and contextually on this modern design course and focuses on the responses of different countries (USA, Great Britain, France, Italy, Brazil, Scandinavia, and Finland) to the challenges and opportunities of the post-war period.


V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion in a secure, closed class environment, wherever you are.

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Online course: Mid-Century Modern Design

28 May 2024 - 2 July 2024


Call to book +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

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