Odds and quads: The Camberwell Collection of Applied Arts

This pinwheel windmill, intended as the centrepiece for a table, has discs set at exactly the right angle to respond to the slightest currents of air.

February 17, 2011

It is one of about 2,000 samples of tableware, domestic goods and textiles, dating from 1951 to the mid-1970s, that make up the Camberwell Collection of Applied Arts.

The collection was originally put together by the Inner London Education Authority for circulation around the capital's schools, so that the consumers of the future would learn to notice "good design" and buy the goods that would stimulate the UK's post-war economy.

In 1957, the scheme was extended to cover art appreciation more generally.

The collection was acquired in 1990 by the Camberwell College of Arts, which has now been incorporated into the University of the Arts London.

Although only a small selection of the items are on public display, other parts of the collection are regularly used by Camberwell students to help develop their conservation skills.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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