Lon­don de­sign

Period Living - - Contents -

As the cap­i­tal pre­pares for its month of de­sign shows, we look back at the fa­mous Great Ex­hi­bi­tion of 1851

As the Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val pre­pares to cel­e­brate all things use­ful and beau­ti­ful, this im­age doc­u­ments the city’s 19th-cen­tury bid to be the de­sign cap­i­tal of the world. First pub­lished in Dick­in­sons’ Com­pre­hen­sive Pic­tures of the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion, it shows vis­i­tors in the pur­pose-built Crys­tal Palace at Lon­don’s Hyde Park in 1851. The Great Ex­hi­bi­tion was the brain­child of Prince Al­bert and Henry Cole, and more than six mil­lion peo­ple are thought to have at­tended. The glass and iron build­ing, de­signed by Joseph Pax­ton, was moved to south Lon­don in 1854 but de­stroyed by a fire in 1936. How in­trigu­ing to see Vic­to­rian vis­i­tors brows­ing a dis­play of cast-iron fire­places, the very items that are now so highly prized in our pe­riod home ren­o­va­tions. It makes you won­der which de­signs ex­hib­ited at this month’s Lon­don De­sign Fes­ti­val will have a sim­i­larly en­dur­ing ap­peal… (15–23 Septem­ber; lon­don­de­sign­fes­ti­val.com)

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