My most significant research project to date is Street Furniture Design: Contesting Modernism in Post-War Britain, published by Bloomsbury in July 2016. My book traces how the design of objects as diverse as lampposts, litterbins, post boxes, parking meters, and road signage became the site of a fierce struggle in post-war Britain, and exposed deep-seated anxieties about class, taste and power. It draws on archival material and interviews with leading figures in urban design, including graphic designer Margaret Calvert and industrial designer Kenneth Grange, to provide another perspective on post-war modernism in Britain, and the development of a more plural design culture. The book has been featured on BBC Radio 3 and Monocle Radio, and reviews have been published in Monocle magazine, The Herald newspaper, the Journal of Design History, and Architectural History journal. Most recently, excerpts from the book featured in the BBC Boring Things podcast.
“A fascinating and revealing analysis of the controversies and anxieties that surrounded the design of urban environments in post-war England. Using archival and other contemporary accounts, Herring demonstrates how the interplay between a wide array of different players and their contrasting agendas based on class, politics and power, formed and controlled the design of these public spaces.” – Dr Clive Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Design History at Loughborough University, UK
“Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Street Furniture Design delves into the debates about the aesthetics and ethics of British townscapes in the immediate postwar decades. Eleanor Herring has written a scintillating book about how the often unnoticed world of lampposts, benches and bus shelters gets fashioned. It's a great read.” – Dr Ben Highmore, Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Sussex, UK
“Street Furniture Design sheds a clear light on how taste, class and power impact the relationship between public policy and design. Its thorough research presents compelling evidence about the politics of furnishing the street and the privatization of public space. Eleanor Herring has provided a deep and original insight into the way design meets society. You'll see the street differently now.” – Professor John Dunnigan, Head of Furniture Design Department, Rhode Island School of Design, USA
“A brilliant and entertaining account of a neglected subject, well written, often comic but fundamentally serious history of an important battleground in the war for Good Modern Design in the 20th Century. This will surely become the standard work.” – Dr Jules Lubbock, Professor of Art History at the University of Essex, UK
“‘Street furniture’, once central to debates about good design and town planning, has here been treated properly by a meticulous scholar who understands the significance of the subject for design history as a whole. Concentrating on the post war period in Britain, Herring uses street furniture as a lens to elucidate some of the key debates about design and modern urban life. This is an excellent book.” – Dr Paul Stirton, Professor of Decorative Arts at the Bard Graduate Center, USA