Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Senior Lecturer, University of Applied Arts Vienna
Website URL
Design; creative industries; professionalisation; gender; identity; fashion; self-image; archives
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Dr. Leah Armstrong is a design and cultural historian. She joined the department of Design History and Theory as Senior Lecturer in 2015, having previously worked in research at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) London, where she programmed the Design Culture Salons and at the Glasgow School of Art, where she undertook an investigation into studio pedagogy. She has also taught at undergraduate level on BA Humanities at the University of Brighton. Leah received full academic scholarships from the AHRC to undertake both her MA and PhD research. Her PhD thesis – a Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) – explored the structure, organisation and identity of the design profession in Britain, informed by the previously unseen archive of the Society of Industrial Artists (1930–).

Her publications include peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters and policy reports and she has presented her research at international conferences. In April 2013, she curated a photographic display of designer portraits at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London. Building on her postgraduate research, her main research interests include creative labour, professionalisation, identity and representation in design and she is currently co-editing a book on these themes. She enjoys working collaboratively, particularly to engage with contemporary design practice. In 2016, Leah was elected as Trustee and Teasurer of the Design History Society and was awarded a Smithsonian Baird Society Resident Scholar fellowship to undertake research in the Special Collections of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library, New York.

Recent Publications

Co-editor with F. McDowell, Fashioning Professionals: Identity and Representation at Work in the Creative Industries (London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

Journal Articles

‘Studio Studies’West 86th, Vol.24, Spring-Summer 2017, pp.122-127. Online Access

‘A New Image for a New Profession: Self-Image and Representation in the Professionalisation of Design in Britain, 1945-1960’Journal of Consumer Culture,online First, (July 2017) Online Access

‘Steering a Course between Commercialism and Professionalism: The Society of Industrial Artists and the Code of Conduct for the Professional Designer, 1945–1975’Journal of Design History, Vol.29, No.2 (2016), pp.161-179.
Open Access

Book Chapters

‘Sites of Interaction: The Design Culture Salons at the V&A Museum’ in L. Farrelly and J. Weddell (eds.) Design Objects and the Museum(London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

‘Commemorating Bonds of Union: Remembering the Ulster Special Constabulary in the National Memorial Arboretum’ in G. Dawson, J. Dover, S. Hopkins (eds.) The Northern Ireland Troubles in Britain(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016).

Encyclopedia Entries

Twenty-one entries on institutions and processes in H. Atkinson and C. Edwards (eds.) Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design(London: Bloomsbury, 2015).

Policy Reports

Co-Author with J. Bailey, G. Julier and L. Kimbell, Social Design Futures, AHRC Scoping Report: Mapping Social Design Research and Practice, V&A, University of Brighton (July, 2014).
Online Access


‘Portraits: Women Designers’, Fashion and Textiles Museum, (16 March–16 June 2012) and accompanying educational digital resource for the University of Brighton Design Archives

Media Coverage
Country Focus
UK; USA; Austria
Expertise by Geography
England, United Kingdom, United States, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Modern, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
Art & Architectural History, Capitalism, Gender, Libraries & Archives, Material Culture, Technology, Women