Society of Industrial Artists (SIA) (1930 – 1987)

Society of Industrial Artists (SIA) (1930 - 1987) Magazine Cover
Society of Industrial Artists Magazine Cover (SIA) (1930 – 1987)

The origins of the CSD lay in the creation in 1930 of the Society of Industrial Artists (SIA) in Britain, when the public debate was concerned with the nature and definition of both the designer and the design profession. The manufacturing industry and the business community were generally sceptical of the potential economic benefits that design investment could deliver. The designer generally received low pay and status; this issue was discussed in the comprehensive 1937 Design and Designer in Industry Report Council for Art and Industry. 

SIA Branches established

SIA branches were established in several regional manufacturing industry centres during the 1930s, such as Manchester (textiles), Stoke on Trent (pottery), Birmingham, and Liverpool. Nevertheless, despite attempts to increase national membership, by 1936, the total number of members was only 250. The society also tended towards what was known as ‘commercial art’ and advertising rather than industrial design per se during the same period.

A rigorous approach to membership

The SIA decided to initiate a more rigours approach to membership in 1945, following the establishment of the Council of Industrial Design (See Design Council) in 1944 and its commitment to educating the manufacturing industry, educators, and the general public on design matters. This represented a marked shift away from the relatively relaxed attitudes of previous decades, with the dissolution of the existing membership, the establishment of a vetting applications committee, and rigorous guidelines being implemented. The members were required to demonstrate their design experience for mass production, whether in industrial design or marketing and advertising. 

Creation of code of conduct

Indeed, through its efforts to advise designers about contracts and fees and the creation of a Code of Professional Conduct, the SIA sought to validate its position. With the increase in the number of design consultancies in Britain in the 1950s, the word ‘artist’ became increasingly uncomfortable as a suitable descriptor for a profession seeking recognition on a par with engineers, lawyers, doctors, and architects. This led to a recasting of the organization’s title as the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers (SIAD) in 1965, a shift that was consolidated with recognizing the significance of design management in successive decades. 

Chartered Society of Designers

A further change of title to the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) in 1987 resulted from this drive. In the 1990s, as an essential instrument of innovation, creativity, and economic and social well-being, the CSD worked closely with the Design Council, the British Council, and the government to promote British design overseas.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Chartered Society of Designers. Oxford Reference. Retrieved 24 Jan. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095603896.

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