Design History


Design History is a broad subject that describes the history of any object that has been designed. Design history has been taught in Britain since the 1960s due to the National Advisory Council on Art Education and is now taught on many art and design subjects. There are two ways design history has been taught, the first being factual and the second including ideals of aesthetic and cultural value.


Humanities courses that teach art and design are courses where students will find design history. Practical courses where students get hands on experience are the art and design courses where many students are taught elements of design history. Courses that have elements of design history include:

  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Crafts
  • Textiles
  • Graphic design
  • Product design

Design history is a relatively new subject and has only been taught since the 1960s when the National Advisory Council on Art Education decided to make subjects in arts and crafts more academic than just practical subjects.


When design history was first taught in the 1060s it was up to art historians to lead the way. The only trouble with this was that they taught with the facts and figures and students learnt from lectures consisting of facts with an aim to remember the facts. This was the way of university education at the time and left no room for imaginative thought.

These days however, further education allows students to learn for themselves and to have their own opinion. This has allowed for design history to change and evolve as elements such as aesthetic, cultural and personal values. The general idea is that as a student learns where an artist or designer gets their ideas from and this in turn allows any artist or designer to turn toward modern values for ideas.


Design history maybe a relatively new concept to be taught on practical courses, but it is an element that allows for students to gain knowledge and understanding of where designers and artists get their basic ideas from. This in turn allows students to look at the world around them in order to get ideas in the same way that earlier designers did and create better words of art and design as a result.

In addition to this, design history allows for practical courses to establish an academic route providing written essays to complement their work.


© All rights reserved. Free access to professional guides