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This article reassesses the window displays created at Simpson’s, Piccadilly, from April 1936 until early 1937 by the Bauhaus master, László Moholy-Nagy. Although art historian and biographer, Krisztina Passuth, gave Moholy-Nagy the credit for bringing new display methods to Britain, my research reveals that modern methods of display were practised well before his arrival. His designs appear removed from the professional standard of British window display, which was influenced by the fundamentals taught at the Schule Reimann in Berlin during the 1920s. To understand the discrepancy between the German influence on British display and the work of an émigré Bauhaus master in Britain, I will first consider German window reform in the 1910s and its development and influence on British display from the latter half of the 1920s. Secondly, I will examine Moholy-Nagy’s period at Simpson’s and his approach to display. Thirdly, I will attempt tounderstand why Moholy-Nagy was seemingly naïve about the modern display methods used in Britain in the mid-1930s and why Simpson’s displays were so removed from the standard of display professionals.
Kerry Meakin, The Bauhaus and the Business of Window Display—Moholy-Nagy’s endeavours at window display in London, Journal of Design History, 2021;, epab019, DOI: 10.1093/jdh/epab019