West Dean College joins forces with KLC School of Design

West Dean College has announced plans to merge with KLC School of Design in London to reflect “an exciting new era for specialist creative education” according to Chief Executive, Alexander Barron.

KLC joins The Edward James Foundation, which operates West Dean College, in July this year, allowing West Dean College of Arts and Conservation and KLC School of Design to combine operations from August 2021. 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 larger, combined institution aims to position itself as the UK’s pre-eminent College of Art, Design and Conservation, 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 the larger 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.

KLC’s London studios in the prestigious Chelsea Harbour Design Centre and West Dean College’s idyllic Grade II listed rural campus in the stunning South Downs will continue operations for the foreseeable future. The two campuses will offer staff and students unprecedented 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 going forward, with a wider range of courses in complementary subjects. The focus will remain firmly on fostering creative excellence and innovation, providing the ideal setting for 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, Chief Executive of West Dean College said:
“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 of KLC School of Design said: “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.”

"Bringing our two renowned institutions together is a win-win, not just for the students and staff of West Dean College and KLC School of Design but for the future of specialist creative practice-based education in the UK.” said Francine Norris, Principal of West Dean College. "The potential for future course development, collaborations and interdisciplinary working is really exciting.”