Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation to join forces with KLC School of Design, marking new era for specialist creative education

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

KLC Ltd will join 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.”

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Notes to Editors:

About West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has an international profile as a centre of excellence for conservation and arts education. Its mission is to provide the highest quality education in creative arts and conservation, inspiring creativity, championing traditional art and craft practices and advancing the care of heritage objects.

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 and is part of The Edward James Foundation Ltd, a registered charity which also comprises West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studios.

About KLC School of Design
KLC is a leading career-focused interior and garden design school. For almost 40 years, KLC has helped people successfully achieve a career in the interior or garden design industries. KLC offers a wide range of online and on-site accredited and professional qualifications and industry-connected careers support from its teaching studios in the heart of London's Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour.
Established in 1982 by Principal Jenny Gibbs OBE, KLC School of Design was founded on the three core values of innovation, creativity and integrity.

About the merger
KLC Limited will be legally acquired by The Edward James Foundation Limited (EJF) in July 2021, ahead of the 2021/22 academic year. All KLC’s activities, including its course portfolio, online learning platform, and other assets and liabilities will transfer to EJF at that point.

Within three years, the merger is expected to add more than 200 higher education students and more than 1,000 short course students to West Dean College’s portfolio.

The KLC portfolio to be acquired by West Dean College is:

  • BA (Hons) Interior Design
  • Diploma HE Interior Design
  • Non-validated Certificates and Short Courses
  • Certificate Interior Design
  • Diploma Garden Design

West Dean College’s course portfolio includes:

  • Master of Fine Art
  • MA Collections Care and Conservation Management
  • MA Conservation Studies
  • MA Creative Writing and Publishing
  • Graduate Diploma Conservation Studies
  • Graduate Diploma Fine Art
  • Foundation Degree Arts; Clocks, Furniture, Musical Instruments and Metalwork
  • Diploma in Art and Contemporary Craft
  • Foundation Diploma in Art and Design
  • Non-validated Certificates and Short Courses

For more information, please contact Nalika de Silva, Head of Student Recruitment & External Engagement, on


A view looking up in modern circular atrium at KLC School of Design, higher floors are visible with a hanging installation in the centre.
KLC School of Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour
The KLC School of Design logo and London skyline reflected in a window.
KLC School of Design at Chelsea Harbour
A tutor speaking to a group of students who are sat at a desk with laptops open in front of them
Class in progress at KLC School of Design
The front view of the historic flint faced building home to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
West Dean College of Arts and Conservation
A student in the Fine Art Studio workspace, the large space features a workbench and the walls are filled with large-scale paintings and wire sculpture pieces
Fine Art student Ruth Heaton in the Fine Art Studios, part of the School of Arts at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Photo by Chris Ison
A student in a furniture workshop, working on a ornate wooden cabinet with a glass panel
Conservation Studies student Anton Hendrik van der Poel in the Furniture workshop in the School of Conservation at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Photo by Chris Ison