BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

27 November 2014
Press Office
Search the BBC and Web
Search BBC Press Office

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Press Releases & Press Packs




Designing the Decades

Designing the Decades, a new four part series for BBC TWO, revisits the nation's design heritage, from the 1960s to the 1990s, and takes a journey through forty years of iconic architecture, interiors, fashion and design.

From the Mini to the Dyson; the Post Office Tower to Waterloo's Eurostar terminal; Laura Ashley to IKEA and the waterbed to the Filofax, the programme charts the designs – both popular and classic – that encapsulated the spirit of each decade.

Designing the Decades remembers some of the best British and international designs which have achieved success on the British market, such as Robin Day's best-selling stacking chair, Mary Quant's mini-skirt, Barbara Hulanickii's Biba, Clive Sinclair's calculator, Richard Roger's Lloyds building, the Paul Smith suit, the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the IMAC.

The series also explores how design icons reflect the aspirations and ideals of each decade.

The series follows the career progression of and features interviews with some of Britain's most enduring designers including Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, Terence Conran, Robin Day, James Dyson and Paul Smith.

And consumers, historians, critics and fans share their personal recollections of the trends that changed the face of their homes and lives.

Details of each programme in the series are below:
Programme one
Programme two
Programme three
Programme four

Programme One – Designing the 60s

The 1960s was one of the most visually exciting decades of the last century. British culture and pop design exploded internationally. Post-war blues were gone and there was a flurry of innovation in architecture, fashion and design to satisfy the emerging youth market.

In the first part of a new series, Designing the Decades explores this significant period of design history to discover the designers and objects that shaped the era.

The programme reveals the story behind cult car the Mini; interviews Robin Day about his ubiquitous stacking chair - 40 million have been manufactured - still found in church halls, dole queues and Botswana canoes; and discovers why a controversial new fashion, the mini-skirt, actually changed tax regulation.

In the 60s, the Post Office Tower went up; Tupperware was the new buzz word in pioneering materials; on the high street, Habitat was changing the face of shopping and the nation's interest in interior design; and a four-man band from Liverpool produced an album with one of the most celebrated covers in pop history. Designer Peter Blake reveals the story behind the sleeve of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Designing the 60s includes interviews with Kenneth Grange, designer of the Kenwood Chef; Peter Murdoch; Mary Quant; Adam Faith; Molly Parkin; Terence Conran; Martyn Rowlands, the man behind the Trimphone; Tony Benn; and series consultant Jonathan Glancey, architecture and design critic for The Guardian.

Programme Two – Designing the 70s

In the 1970s, the economy took a downturn. It was a time of recession, social unrest and the three-day week.

This programme looks at how designers provided the public with an escape from the grim reality of their lives through glamour, nostalgia and dreams of the future.

Designing the Decades examines the rise and fall of the house of Biba, Britain's biggest fashion emporium, which made chocolate brown the colour of the day and became a haunt for the coolest people in town.

Brown also found its way into the living room when the British yearned to escape to a rural idyll of rustic crafts and countryside, as epitomised by Tom and Barbara in The Good Life.

The synthetics and plastics of the 1960s went out and pine and macrame came in.

If you couldn’t actually live in the country then the next best thing was to dress the part. Laura Ashley turned the nation into milkmaids with her William Morris style print dresses.

And the car of the countryside was born - the Range Rover.

Quirky new products attempted to bring fun to the gloomy decade - Charles Hall's waterbed, the jacuzzi, music centres, Clive Sinclair's pocket calculator, the digital watch and the bike that thought it was a Harley - the Chopper.

In architecture Norman Foster's groundbreaking Sainsbury Centre sent shock waves through the architectural community and set the pace for a new generation of architects.

And in the Queen's jubilee year, when the nation was swept up in a wave of patriotism, a subversive new movement was alarming the establishment – punk - whose DIY aesthetic revolutionised fashion and graphic design.

Designing the 70s includes interviews with many of the decade's driving forces including Barbara Hulanicki, Nick and Bernard Ashley, son and husband of Laura, Clive Sinclair, Charles Hall, Roy Jacuzzi, Norman Foster, Malcolm Maclaren and The Sex Pistol's graphic artist, Jamie Reid.

Programme Three – Designing the 80s

Dubbed the decade of style, it was in the 1980s that Britain became well and truly design conscious. This was the age of the yuppie - individuals were defined by the suit they wore, the car they drove and the accessories they carried. Money was no object and status symbols came into their own.

The programme reveals the story behind the rise of Paul Smith - how he went from dressing miners to city slickers and created a worldwide empire. Not content with restyling the British male, Paul Smith was also the man responsible for the ultimate 80s accessory - the Filofax.

For those for whom money was no object there was the Porsche 911.

Architecture saw the arrival of post modernism typified by Terry Farrell's TV-AM building. The frivolity of an egg cup house captured the spirit of playfulness that infected the early part of the decade.

Meanwhile at the other end of the decade Richard Rogers' Lloyds building typified hi-tech modernism and revolutionised London's skyline.

Women and men were earning more than ever and suddenly young couples could afford their own homes. Interiors became functional and practical and the nation was introduced to the futon.

Japanese influence was also evident with the arrival of the Sony Walkman - a revolution in terms of design and experience.

It was also the decade of gadgets, some more successful than others: the answerphone, the Amstrad and the C5.

And an alluring new glossie, The Face, broke down traditional preconceptions of the layout of a magazine.

With contributions from Paul Smith, Terry Farrell, Richard Rogers, Terence Conran, Anne Diamond, Janet Street-Porter, Rodney Fitch, James Dyson, Jason Barlow, Tyler Brulee, Alan Sugar, Alice Rawsthorn, Christopher Frayling and Neville Brody, designer of The Face.

Programme Four – Designing the 90s

In the 90s design became affordable for everyone and Britain was transformed into a brand conscious nation.

At the start of the decade, society rejected the excesses of the 1980s and design became more sober and minimalist. Meanwhile as more women went out to work and their spending power increased, so design reflected a new feminine energy and products became softer, curvier and more colourful.

Designing the 90s explores the popularity of loft living, which encapsulated the ethos of minimalism. The stripped back, natural look of loft living became accessible to all with the arrival of IKEA who introduced the British to simple clean Swedish furniture. IKEA became so big in the 90s that it is estimated that one in ten Europeans was conceived in an IKEA bed.

This was also the decade when a young maverick inventor, James Dyson, revolutionised the vacuum cleaner market, inspired by watching salad spinners and fairground rides that used cyclonic action.

Computer generated graphics enabled award winning architect Nicholas Grimshaw to design the perfect building for Waterloo's Eurostar terminal; and with the Ka, Ford flew in the face of market research and produced a car that was round instead of square.

The programme discovers how All Bar One kick-started the pub bar revolution, transforming Britain's drinking dens from grotty pubs into clean bright spaces that appealed to a new generation of young professionals, and especially the female workforce.

And in the mid-1990s, 'Girl Power' hit Britain. Lara Croft designers and brothers Jeremy and Adrian Smith describe the creation of the first virtual reality human, why she had to be a woman, and how she became a design icon. And the programme explores the sensational success of the Wonderbra.

The programme includes interviews with James Dyson, David Adjaye, Tyler Brulee, Caryn Franklin, Kevin McCloud, Alice Rawsthorn, John Hegarty, Adam and Jeremy Smith, and Nicholas Grimshaw

Notes to Editors

Designing the Decades will be broadcast in March 2003 on BBC TWO.

Pictures and preview tapes are available, for media use only, via the BBC Press Office website.

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels - including BBC THREE - as well as six BBC radio networks.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy