The Glasgow Style: Design in its DNA – Arts for a Wealthy City

In the late 1800s, the City of Glasgow was a bustling metropolis thriving on innovation and industry.  As the Empire’s Second City – it was one of the richest in the world.  A centre for trade and manufacturing, Glasgow was a global city with an international reputation.  The exhibitions of 88 and 01 allowed the city to showcase its might across the empire; As the factory of the world, Shipbuilding, Locomotives, Engineering and Textiles required additional trades and services including furniture design and carpenters, metalworkers, and fashion designers.  Design was central in the city’s DNA as it contributed to industrial and commercial success.

Francis Newbury became director of GSA in 1885.  His influence changed the school; Inspired by the ideals of William Morris, he moved focus away from traditional fine arts and expanded the curriculum to offer more applied arts including:  pottery, embroidery, metalwork, stained glass and woodcarving.  Newbury’s mission was to create designers for the city’s manufacturing industries.

Industrial success had created huge amounts of wealth for the city allowing for large scale change which encouraged the development of progressive, modern Architecture, which was characterised with distinct, decorative style.  This became known as the Glasgow Style.  Architecturally, most of this is limited to commercial and civic structures in the city centre, with only a handful of private dwellings commissioned by wealthy clients.

The Glasgow Style and Modernity route walk, by the CRM Society offers an insight into this period of industrial success and wealth.


Key Themes: Boundaries, Inequality