The collection comprises material relating to all spheres of the Council's activities including investigation, publication, exhibition, promotion and education. More than two thousand files document the relationships it developed over time with manufacturing industry, the retail trade, the education sector, cultural organisations and the media. Internal memos and a large body of correspondence, as well as plans, minutes of meetings, and the day-to-day administration of a wide range of initiatives such as competitions and award schemes, make up the content of these files.
Design promotion is a core concern and the Council operated as a display designer, exhibition originator and contributor on local, regional, national and overseas platforms. Most famously it was associated with the delivery of the 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition and the 1951 Festival of Britain.
The Council"s extensive photographic collection (around 100,000 items) documents these landmark events and reflects many aspects of social and cultural change in twentieth-century Britain, especially as related to product evolution and interior design. This former Picture Library also provides good coverage of design internationally.
Records relating to the post 1980s period are organised by department rather than the earlier numeric sequencing and will be added incrementally to the available listings. These holdings are especially strong in the areas of education at all levels, but especially following the implementation of the National Curriculum, and liaison with global bodies such as ICSID (the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) and ICOGRADA (the International Council of Graphic Design Associations). Also available to researchers are more than two thousand items of exhibition and event-related ephemera (invitations, pamphlets, posters and flyers); books and reports produced or collected by the Council; and many press-cuttings and press releases. The Archive continues to receive regular deliveries of material from the Council.