Design Index and Review

Scope and Content

Files in DCA/31 relate to the orchestration of one of the Council"s longest running and best remembered initiatives: the scheme to highlight products that it considered to be well designed. The series was originally extensive, in line with the importance of the product indexing scheme to which it related. Of the 16 files which now remain, 13 are from the file sequence DAC/31/1384. The three which are not part of the /1384 sequence cover policy relating to the scheme; the Council"s approval of Coronation souvenir designs; and arrangements relating to the exhibition of approved products in the US.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arising out of an idea that originated with the 1951 Festival of Britain, the Stock Index, afterwards Design Review, was made publicly accessible once more with the opening in 1956 of the Design Centre in Haymarket, London. The scheme was re-named Design Index in 1958, and Design Centre Selection at the beginning of 1982. It was finally discontinued in 1988 as part of a larger re-consideration of the Council"s activities.


The surviving files have been retained in their original numeric order as allocated by the Council"s Registry. This means that records in a series do not necessarily have consecutive file numbers, and may not be located together.

Access Information

Five files recording the deliberations of the Design Index Committee between 1952 and 1955 are in a very fragile state and cannot be made available to researchers at the present time.

Archivist's Note

Record created by Lesley Whitworth, with minor amendments by Sue Breakell, August 2010.

Related Material

Almost every file numbered 1384 was located in DCA/31. Rare exceptions appeared in DCA/4, for example, and related to financial aspects of the index scheme"s management, and one of these survives.

Some material relating to the Design Index and Review scheme"s 1951 precursor can be found in Series 14B. The fullest picture of the development of the scheme can be found by doing a keyword search on Design Index".

A wide range of complementary material is also available, including photographs, posters, and 'Design Selection' magazine.


Moriarty, Catherine, 'A backroom service? The photographic library of the Council of Industrial Design, 1946-1965', Journal of Design History 13:1 (2000), 39-57.

Whitworth, Lesley, "Anticipating Affluence: Skill, Judgement and the Problems of Aesthetic Tutelage' in L. Black and H. Pemberton (eds), 'An Affluent Society? Britain's Post-War 'Golden Age' Revisited', Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004, 167-183.

Moriarty, Catherine, "Bernard Schottlander"s Industrial Design as a System of Appearances", in Catherine Moriarty and Victoria Worsley (eds), Indoors and Out: The Sculpture and Design of Bernard Schottlander (Henry Moore Institute Essays on Sculpture, No. 56), 3-7.