In the middle of the 19th century, wallpaper design suddenly became diverse. English manufacturers began to excel at the quick production of affordable wallpapers. There was also an ever-increasing availability of things from abroad. This resulted in a dramatic explosion of choice. Design Reform was a movement that wanted to control the quality of English design. There was enough concern about the higher standard of foreign things that the debate made its way to parliament.
Unreformed: Wallpaper and Design Diversity at the Whitworth looks at how powerful the voices of the people who called for Design Reform were. These (mostly male) designers, writers and MPs had a lasting effect on the way museums and art schools taught about good design. Ultimately the exhibition serves as a celebration of their failure to control the diversity of design that was available.