Royal Designers for Industry & Liberty

Friday 23 October / 11.30am


The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) has a long association with Liberty London. Susan Bennett traces the influence of the RSA, the department store and its founder in sharing powerful ideas about design and cutting-edge research.

In 1883, Arthur Lasenby Liberty was elected a member of the then Society of Arts where he played an influential role in sharing ideas on contemporary design. Liberty was represented on the Society’s powerful Applied Art Section Committee, with G.F. Bodley, Walter Crane, Sir Thomas Wardle and Cyril Davenport, among others. The talk touches on Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s research into ‘The Industrial Arts and Manufactures of Japan’ (1890), ‘English Furniture’ (1900) and ‘Pewter and the Revival of its Use’, plus his contribution to the discussion of ‘The Design and Architectural Treatment of the Shop’ in 1913.

Liberty London has also collaborated with some of the RSA’s Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry including C.F. Voysey, Lucienne Day and Vivienne Westwood. The title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) is the highest accolade for designers in the UK and is awarded annually by the RSA to designers of all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society. Lucienne Day was approached by Liberty’s to design a linen dress fabric to celebrate the Queen’s coronation in 1953 – Tudor (also known as Coronation) Rose and the following year Liberty’s commissioned the furnishing fabric design ‘Fritillary’. The talk will be illustrated with examples of the RDI designs that have featured in the store.

Susan Bennett is Honorary Faculty Fellow at the University of Brighton Design Archives. She is currently working on the history of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry (RDIs) as part of the AHRC ‘Exploring British Design’ project. Bennett is a founder member and Honorary Secretary of the William Shipley Group which continues the research she undertook as the Curator/Archivist of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

*Free talk with exhibition ticket booked below. Not valid with any other offer.
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Exhibition tickets: £9 adults / £7 concessions / £6 students
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Left: Arthur Lazenby Liberty © Liberty London
Right: ‘Coronation Rose’ scarf design by Lucienne Day, 1952 for Liberty London © Design by Lucienne Day

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