MUP author awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship

MUP author awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship

Posted by Manchester University Press - Wednesday, 13 Mar 2013




Dr Deborah Sugg Ryan, Senior Lecturer Histories and Theories of Design at Falmouth University, has been awarded a Mid-Career Fellowship by the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences. The scheme attracts strong competition, receiving over 300 outline applications and awarding only 46 fellowships for 2012-13.

The Fellowship is intended to support outstanding individual researchers with excellent research proposals, and to promote public understanding and engagement with humanities and social sciences. The awards allow recipients time freed from normal teaching and administrative commitments to devote to the completion of a major piece of research. The Academy also places emphasis on applicants’ evidence of a commitment to public engagement with and communication of the results of the research during the period of the Fellowship.

Deborah’s research, titled ‘Ideal’ Homes: Design, Architecture and Suburban Modernity in England, 1908-2014,to be published by Manchester University Press, explores the architecture, design and decoration of the ‘ideal’ home. It draws on and extends Deborah’s research on the Ideal Home Show, which resulted in her doctorate (1995), a monograph (1997) and Design Museum exhibition ‘Ideal Homes’ (1993). Deborah says, “Founded in 1908, the Ideal Home Show is the oldest and longest continuously running commercial exhibition aimed at the public in the world. Its history gives an unrivaled insight into the public’s taste in architecture, design and all matters that make a house a home.”

Deborah’s research on the Ideal Home Show will result in a revised version of her book on the Ideal Home Show, updated to include a discussion of the representation of the sustainable home in the 2000s. She is also writing a book on the inter-war home for Manchester University Press. Both books will be published in 2014.
In addition, Deborah is also doing knowledge exchange with the Ideal Home Show’s owners Media 10 to disseminate her work to visitors. Lee Newton, CEO of Media-10 said: “On the day we first took charge we were handed Deborah’s fantastic book which really gave us a sense of the history and importance of what we had bought. In actual fact, it helped us to understand that more than just buying a business we had become the guardians of a great British tradition. We are delighted to be in regular contact with Deborah, working with her over 2012-13 and beyond. It is wonderful that with the support of the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship that we can further investigate and explore the rich history of the Ideal Home Show, dating back to 1908.”

Deborah is now halfway through her fellowship. She says, ‘It has been fascinating to revisit archives that I first used 20 years ago. Things are so much better catalogued now. I have been able to, for example, to connect designs for the exhibition by Raymond McGrath in the Royal Institute of British Architects’ archives with a photo of his scheme as it was actually enacted in 1933 in the Earls Court & Olympia company archives. Lots of material, such as digital copies of newspapers, is available online, something that didn’t exist when I started my PhD in 1990. I have recently found photos of the first Ideal Home Exhibition in 1908 in the Daily Mirror, which was the first newspaper to include photos. The photos include an image of a suffragette invasion of the exhibition. This is really significant, as until now I thought only one photo had survived! I am currently pursuing sources of funding for a project to bring all the Ideal Home Show archive material together online into a digital portal, which would be of immense use to academics, schools, designers, architects and the exhibitions industry”.

Deborah is also working on a funding bid to build a ‘house of the future’ at the show. This has been a significant feature in the show’s history, most notably with houses by RA Duncan and S Rowland Pierce’s in 1928; Wells Coates and David Pleydell Bouverie’s Sunspan House in 1934; Alison & Peter Smithson in 1956 and Nigel Coates’ Oyster House in 1998. Deborah is planning to meet with a group of leading academics in design, architecture, geography, anthropology and energy policy at the show this year as a first step.


Deborah has given several talks this year on her research (which you can find detailed on her academia page).


She has also been commissioned by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to write entries on two people associated with the history of the show: 


1. Thomas Wareham Smith (1874-1938): advertising director of the Daily Mail, who founded the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1908. 


2. Nancie Clifton Reynolds (1903-1931) [real name Agnes Margaret Warden Hardie], Girton graduate and expert on housework who demonstrated labour-saving appliances at the Ideal Home Exhibition, organised other women demonstrators, and wrote articles in the catalogue.


Editor’s notes

Dr Deborah Sugg Ryan
[email protected]
07958 196133
Twitter: @DeborahSuggRyan



Contact: Bethan Hirst

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Manchester University Press
Oxford Rd, Manchester, M13 9NR
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Twitter: @ManchesterUP


Formed 10 years ago, Media 10 Limited is a multi-award winning company with a wealth of experience and a vibrant culture. Media 10 are a privately owned company based in Loughton, Essex employing 180 staff and have fast become one of the leading players in the events industry as a result of the hugely successful Grand Designs Live and the country’s largest consumer exhibition – The Ideal Home Show.

For 2013 Media 10 has been asked to organise The Coronation Festival, a one-off 4 day event held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, to mark the 60thyear of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation.

Other events in the portfolio include 100% Design, Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model Live, Clerkenwell Design Week, The London Design Trail, FutureDrive, Destination Star Trek London, The Ideal Home Show at Christmas and The Ideal Home Show Scotland.
Media 10’s award winning magazines include Icon, Grand Designs, On Office, The Selfbuilder, Gurgle magazine, The Clerkenwell Post and M the music magazine published for the MCPS-ORS Alliance.

Contact: Rob Nathan

[email protected]
Twitter: @ideal_home_show #IHS

The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is the national body that champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It aims to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement across the UK and internationally. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news  


Contact: Kate Rosser Frost
Press & PR Manager
The British Academy
10-11 Carlton House Terrace
London, SW1Y 5AH
020 7969 5263
07931 227 451
[email protected]


Falmouth University is the only independent Higher Education institution in Cornwall with the right to award degrees in its own name.  The University has two campuses – on Woodlane in Falmouth and Tremough in Penryn (which it owns and jointly manages with the University of Exeter). Falmouth is a founding partner in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC), a unique initiative to promote regional economic regeneration through Higher Education, funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One and Convergence), the South West Regional Development Agency and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall Council.

Contact: Sally Grint

Communications & PR Manager
Falmouth University
Woodlane, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 4RH
m: 07780 565552
[email protected]
Twitter: @FalmouthDesign






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