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Personal profile


I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2016 as Professor of Design History and Theory and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. I began my career as a curator at the V&A Museum, London. This was followed by my PhD The Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition and Suburban Modernity, 1908-51 (Department of Cultural Studies, University of East London, 1995), for which I curated ideal Homes for the Design Museum in 1993. I was a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway University of London, on the project Imperial Cities: Landscape, Space and Performance in London and Rome, 1850-1950

I have held lecturing posts at the Univerity of Wolverhampton, University of East London, Open University, University of Ulster and Loughorough University. I was Senior Lecturer and then Associate Professor of Design History and Theory at Falmouth University from 2007-16. 

I am an experienced television and radio presenter, contributor, consultant and public speaker. As a contributor and consultant to all 4 series of BBC Two's A House Through Time (Twenty Twenty Televsion), I advise and present segments on the history of the domestic interior and material culture. I wrote and presented the 5-part series Trading Spaces (Whistledown Productions) for BBC Radio 4 in 2021. I co-host Twitter's #HouseHistoryHour on Thursdays at 1900 GMT with a group of leading house historians via @HouseHistoryHr. I have also worked with the genealogy website Findmypast.co.uk, contributing blogposts and speaking at Facebook Live events.

Research Interests

I am currently researching the past, present and future of the kitchen, which will result in a monograph contracted to Reaktion Books. I was a member of the Editorial Board of the Adam Matthew Digital database Trade Catalogues and the American Home. for which I wrote an essay 'The American kitchen, 1850-1950: From workroom to heart of the home'. I wrote 'From the "smart" kitchen to "kitchenism' for the catalogue to the V&A Museum's 2019 exhibition Food: Bigger Than the Plate for which I was also a member of the Advisory Board.

My current research builds on my previous work on the material culture and design of the home and domestic space, focused on the interwar home and the Ideal Home Show. My monograph Ideal Homes, 1918-39: Domestic Design and Suburban Modernism (Manchester University Press, 2018) was awarded the 2020 Historians of British Art Book Prize for Exemplary Scholarship in the Period after 1800 and was also shorlisted for the 2019 Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion. It was republished in a new trade edition in 2020 as Ideal Homes: Understanding the Design and History of the Interwar House with a new introduction on researching house history.

I have published several articles on the invention of historical pageants and spectacle in Britain, the US and the British Empire in the twentieth century, mainly focusing on the work of pageant master Frank Lascelles. I was a member of the Advisory Board to AHRC The Redress of the Past: Historical Pageants in Britain, 1905-2016 and have contributed to an English Heritage podcast on Gwen Lally's 1938 Battle Abbey Pageant.

I am an experienced PhD supervisor with completions. I peer review regularly for academic journals and publishers and a former member of the AHRC Peer Review College. 

Teaching Responsibilities

PhD supervision: Completions

Damon Taylor, Design art furniture and the boundaries of function: Communicative objects, performative things (Falmouth University, awarded by the University of Arts London, 2011)

Angela Butterfield, Resilient places?: Healthcare gardens and the Maggie's Centres (Falmouth University, awarded by the University of Arts London, 2014)

Jason Cleverly, The artist-designer: Situating creative interaction and interpretation in the museum (Falmouth University, awarded by the University of Arts London, 2017)

Julie Ripley, Surf’s Us: Constructing surfing identities through clothing culture in Cornwall Falmouth University, awarded by the University of Arts London, 2018)


PhD supervision: Current students

Lorna Sheppard, A study of llustrated Post-War British cookbooks: The interplay between author and illustrator and class and gender identities, 1954-1965

Lauren MacPherson, Memory, trauma and nostalgia in middlebrow fiction

Alice Naylor, 'Eye appeal is buy appeal: The design, mediation and consumption of Kenwood appliances, 1947-2000 (AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with the Science Museum Group)


Media Availability

I am an experienced presenter, contributor and consultant for television and radio including BBC Two's A House Through Time and Inside the Factory, More 4's David Jason's History of Great British Inventions, Channel 5's Farrow and Ball: Inside the Posh Paint Factory and Radio 4's Trading Spaces, You and Yours and Woman's Hour

Journalist enquiries should be made via email deborah.suggryan@port.ac.uk or telephone 07712 410659. 

You can also contact the University's Press and Media team for support and advice on all media engagement, including out of hours

Enquiries for factual television and radio should be directed to my agent Knight Ayton Management: info@knightayton.co.uk or 020 3795 1806


I am Professor of Design History and Theory and Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural industries.

My current research focuses on houses, interiors and domestic design, I also have another strand of research on twentieth century historical pageants. An experienced broadcaster for television and radio, I am series consultant and a presenter for the BBC Two television series A House Through Time.

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D., University of East London


Award Date: 1 Sep 1995

BA (Hons), University of Essex


Award Date: 1 Jul 1986

External positions

Associate Professor of History and Theory of Design, Falmouth University


Senior Lecturer in History and Theory of Design, Falmouth University


Lecturer B in Art and Design, Loughborough University


Lecturer B in History of Art and Design, Ulster University


Research Fellow in History, Ulster University


Associate Lecturer, The Open University


Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Historical Geography, Royal Holloway University of London


Lecturer in Visual Theories, University of East London


Lecturer in History of Art and Design, University of Wolverhampton


Curator G, National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum



  • NA Architecture
  • Housing
  • Domestic architecture
  • Home
  • Domestic interior
  • Suburbia
  • Interior design
  • NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
  • Domestic design
  • Product design
  • PN2000 Dramatic representation. The Theater
  • Pageants
  • Pageantry
  • Spectacle
  • NC Drawing Design Illustration
  • Fashion design
  • Textile design
  • GV Recreation Leisure
  • Exhibitions
  • Commercial exhibitions
  • Trade exhibitions
  • D204 Modern History
  • Inter-war Britain
  • Post-war Britain
  • Lower-middle-classes
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Visual Culture
  • Material Culture
  • Design History
  • History of Design
  • Popular taste


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