The Shillito Design School: Australia’s Link with the Bauhaus

By Zena O’Connor.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Shillito Design School was a landmark institution that represented an Australian link to the Bauhaus, arguably the most influential design school of the 20th century. With a curriculum devised by its founder, Phyllis Shillito, the Shillito Design School was the only institution of its kind offering a comprehensive design and colour course in Sydney. To mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the School, the origins and comprehensive nature of the School’s curriculum are examined in detail. Referencing original sources including the recollections of former students, evidence is provided to support the hypothesis that Shillito’s approach to pedagogy and curriculum was strongly influenced by the Bauhaus as well as the colour theories of Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. Key ideas and theories, many of which were adapted from the Bauhaus as well as Itten and Albers, were embedded within the praxis-based pedagogy and curriculum of the Shillito Design School. As with the Bauhaus, the School aimed to provide students with comprehensive training in design and colour theory that was underpinned by the notion that a student who has mastered the principles of design can apply this knowledge to any project no matter the size or complexity.

Keywords: Design Education, Design Principles, Elements of Design

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.149-159. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.785MB).

Dr. Zena O’Connor

Research Associate, Associate Lecturer, Architectural Design Science discipline, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Dr. Zena O’Connor is a research associate and associate lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. She is a principal researcher in Design Research Associates, and sessional lecturer in colour theory at the College of Fine Art in the University of NSW. Her key areas of research interest include colour theory and application, environment-behaviour studies, environmental evaluation, and visual literacy.