Faculty Armstrong

Leah Armstrong

FWF Elise Richter Senior-Postdoctoral Fellow
Design History and Theory

MA Cultural History: Distinction,
University of Manchester (2010)
PhD Design History,
University of Brighton (2014)


Dr. Leah Armstrong is a design and cultural historian presently engaged as an FWF Richter-Program Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, on the research project ‘Professionalisation and its Discontents: Design 1930–1980’. 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.


Designing a Profession: The Changing Identity of the Designer in Britain and the United states, 1930–1980, (Manchester: MUP, forthcoming).

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

Journal Articles

‘Fashions of the Future: Fashion, Gender, and the Professionalization of Industrial Design’Design Issues, Vol. 37, Issue 3, (Summer 2021), pp. 5–17. Online Access 

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

‘Working from Home: Fashioning the Designer in Britain’ in G. Julier et al (eds.) Design Culture: Object and Approaches (London: Bloomsbury, 2019).

‘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).

Book Reviews

‘Engineered to Sell: European Emigres and the Making of Consumer Capitalism’Journal of Design History, Vol. 34, Issue 3, 2021, pp. 287–289. 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, Vol. 19, Issue 1, (2019). Online Access

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

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