Isokon Symposium at the Yale Center for British Art | Call for Papers

Jemma Field's picture
Call for Papers
January 6, 2023 to January 31, 2023
Connecticut, United States
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, British History / Studies, Urban Design and Planning

A pioneer in its approach to materials, marketing, and design, Isokon Ltd was instrumental in introducing functional modernism to England between the wars. Established in 1932 by the progressive entrepreneur Jack Pritchard (1899–1992), Isokon became known for the sleek, ocean-liner-inspired apartment building on Lawn Road in London, designed by Wells Coates (1895–1958) in 1934, and the iconic collection of bent-plywood furniture, much of it designed by Marcel Breuer (1902–1981). Together these endeavors gave form to a radical new way of living and have inspired generations of designers since.

The story of Isokon is the story of multiculturalism and creative exchange among a vibrant, if intimate, modernist milieu in 1930s London. This one-day, online symposium explores all aspects of Isokon’s creative output. Seeking to move away from the overly simplistic narrative that it represented “the Bauhaus in London,” the symposium brings fresh insight about the hybridity of Isokon’s iconic aesthetic and its emergence from London’s cultural and modernist melting pot. We welcome proposals on any topic related to the architecture, furniture, and marketing designs produced by Isokon, the architects and designers it employed, and the occupants of the Lawn Road flats. Themes for consideration include:

  • Networks of creative exchange between the Isokon architects/designers and avant-garde artists, architects, and critics in 1930s London

  • The role of Isokon designs in discourse about revolutionary aesthetics

  • Critical reception of Isokon furniture and the Lawn Road flats

  • The design, materials, and manufacture of Isokon furniture

  • Coates and the architecture of the Lawn Road flats

  • Isokon branding, advertising, and other visual media

  • Avant-garde photography and the documentation of Isokon architecture and furniture, including but not limited to that by Edith Tudor-Hart (1908–1973) and John Havinden (1908–1987)

  • Other furniture designed by Breuer, Gropius, Ernest Race (1913–1964), and Egon Riss (1901–1964) while living in England

  • The influence of Isokon on other furniture designers and architects at the time and up to the present

Contact Info: 

Research Department

Yale Center for British Art

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