West Dean to merge with KLC School of Design

West Deal College of Arts & Conservation and KLC School of Design are merging in time for the new academic year in September.

West Dean College of Arts & Conservation, a highly regarded seat of learning in conservation and arts, is joining forces with KLC School of Design, which focuses on interior and garden design.

The announcement was made today (24 March). The move has been described as “an exciting new era for specialist creative education”.

West Dean College of Arts & Conservation is based in Chichester, West Sussex, while the KLC School of Design studios are in Chelsea Harbour Design Centre in London.

KLC Ltd will join The Edward James Foundation, which operates West Dean College, in July this year, allowing West Dean College of Arts & Conservation and KLC School of Design to combine operations from August, ready for the new academic year starting in September.

The move will bring together two of the most prestigious and well established providers of specialist creative education in the UK.

Under the management of West Dean College, the combined institution will aim to position itself as the UK’s pre-eminent College of art, design and conservation, says Alexander Barron, Chief Executive of West Dean College.

The institutions already are internationally recognised for excellence and creative innovation.

KLC’s portfolio of interior and garden design courses will form a new School of Design as part of West Dean College, which currently has a School of Conservation and a School of Arts.

West Dean College’s courses include buildings, materials and objects conservation as well as fine art, creative writing and contemporary craft.

The premises in London and the South Downs in Sussex will both continue operations for the foreseeable future, the two campuses offering staff and students opportunities for exchange and crossover, allowing them to enjoy the best of both a vibrant city setting and an inspirational countryside retreat.

Students will also be offered greater choice in their studies, with a wider range of courses in complementary subjects.

The focus will remain firmly on fostering creative excellence and innovation, allowing students to acquire and apply the skills needed for successful careers in the arts, conservation and design industries.

The Principals and Chief Executives from West Dean College and KLC have worked closely together on the plans and both institutions are fully committed to ensuring a smooth transition for all students, faculty, and staff.

Alexander Barron at West Dean says: “West Dean College is 50 years old this year and KLC is 40. Important milestones for two institutions that share a rich and successful history providing high quality, specialist education in arts, conservation and design.

“We have an incredible opportunity in bringing our two renowned and respected organisations together. Combining our strengths, we will become stronger and more successful than the sum of our parts, forging a truly exciting new era for specialist creative and craft education in the UK and internationally.”

Jenny Gibbs OBE, Principal at KLC School of Design, says: “At KLC we have always believed in the benefits of collaboration. We share the values and ethos of West Dean College and are hugely excited about the opportunities our combined programmes in art, design and conservation will bring to current students and future students.

“As one institution we will be in a better position to meet the fast-changing needs of students, the industries we serve and the rapidly changing world beyond.”

Francine Norris, Principal of West Dean College, added: “The potential for future course development, collaborations and interdisciplinary working is really exciting.”

The contrasting settings of West Dean in the South Downs of Sussex and the Design Centre of Chelsea Harbour will present new opportunities for students as West Dean and KLC School of Design merge.

West Dean in SussexDesign Centre Chelsea Harbour