Ten of the UK’s best designers are to become the latest Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) at an award ceremony held at the RSA on Thursday 19 November.
Recognised for their outstanding contribution to design, Sir Kenneth Adam, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Alison Chitty, Jim Clay, Mark Farrow, Peter Higgins, Barbara Hulanicki, Stephen Jones, Derek Sugden, and Kim Wilkie will join a select group of designers who currently hold the RDI award.
Regarded as the highest honour a designer can receive in the UK, three honorary RDI awards will also be given to international designers including Konstantin Gric, Martha Schwartz, and a posthumous award to Pierre Paulin.
Following the announcement of the new Royal Designers, Robin Levien RDI, product designer and incoming Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry, will give the annual address entitled ‘Elusive rightness in design’.
The distinction Royal Designer for Industry will be conferred to the following designers for 2009:
Sir Kenneth Adam is regarded as the world’s greatest living motion picture production designer, and among the most distinguished in the history of cinema. Throughout his career of over fifty years, Adam’s work has been noted for the clarity, muscularity, and architectural purity of the settings he created for a number of the most iconic films of the latter half of the 20th century. These include several of the early James Bond films such as Dr No, Goldfinger, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, Barry Lyndon, and Alan Bennett’s The Madness of King George.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Interaction Design)
The World Wide Web, a global information space where documents and data are linked, was conceived whilst Berners-Lee was working at CERN in the 1980s and early1990s. From the beginning the Web was intended to be a platform for creativity, and to give everyone the freedom to publish. It has become the most powerful communications medium which offers graphic designers new means to express themselves, and has directly influenced communications design. If graphic design may be described as the mediation of information, allowing for communication between author and audience via a range of designer-defined media and strategies, then Tim Berners- Lee, in defining the framework through which so much communication now takes place, may be regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary graphic design practice. Visit the W3C website
Alison Chitty (Production Design)
A leading stage designer for 25 years, Alison Chitty has designed for the leading theatre and opera companies both in the UK and worldwide. Her aesthetic has been consistent in it's pursuit of expressing the playwright's words or the composer's music with a simplicity of form and colour. She understands the power of space and her work avoids the superfluous gesture and concentrates on strong narrative, wit, and striking aesthetics. Her costume designs also reflect the same passion, character, and attention to detail. Her film work includes Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet, Naked, and Secrets and Lies. Chitty is also Director of the Motley Theatre Design School in Covent Garden, nurturing the talent of future production designers.
Jim Clay (Production Design)
Jim Clay is a Production Designer of the highest quality and one of the most sought after in the UK. He began his career as an architect, but took a job as design assistant at the BBC in the 1970s. Clay found success a few years later designing the BBC’s BAFTA award winning “Singing Detective” television serial, closely followed by “Christabel”. Since 1985 Clay has worked primarily in the film industry with some of it’s best directors on films including ‘The Crying Game’, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, and ‘About a Boy’.
Mark Farrow (Graphic Design)
Mark Farrow was named Designer of the Year in the Creative Review Peer Poll in 2004, voting him ‘the most important graphic designer working today’. His career began in the early 1980s designing experimental sleeves and posters for Factory Records, and the Hacienda, which placed him at the forefront of contemporary music graphic design. This has since continued with a longstanding creative partnership with the Pet Shop Boys, and other bands such as Spiritualized. His minimalist approach, and a rigorous, highly precise attention to detail defines his aesthetic, and appeals to a broad spectrum of clients, from museums and galleries to pop music and retail, product designers and architects, to restaurateurs and artists. Visit Mark Farrow's website
Peter Higgins (Interior Design)
Peter Higgins trained at the Architectural Association and has worked for the BBC, in the West End Theatre, and for design consultancy Imagination. In 1992 he co-founded Land Design Studio who have built a reputation in conceptual master planning, design, and the innovative use of communication media for museums, visitor attractions and commercial environments. A holistic approach involves collaborations and cross-overs of diverse disciplines reflected in the range of preent clients that include; Anschutz Entertainment Group, Eurostar, Christies, National Parks Singapore, the V&A, Natural History Museum, and The Chinese Academy of Art.
Barbara Hulanicki (Fashion Design)
Barbara Hulanicki began her career in fashion working as a freelance fashion illustrator for Womens Wear Daily, Tatler and British Vogue. As a designer she helped define the 1960’s, opening her iconic shop Biba in 1964 which radically changed both the British high street and fashion retailing. Her exuberant ideas flouted high fashion and social distinction and brought affordable clothing to an eager young market. She has continued to work in fashion after the closure of Biba, and recently launched a collection at Topshop. Visit Barbara Hulanicki's website
Stephen Jones (Millinery)
Stephen Jones is one of the world’s leading hat designers. Using radical materials and daring designs, his exquisitely crafted hats have pushed the boundaries of millinery. A leading figure on the London fashion scene during its explosion of street style in the late 1970s, he opened his first studio in Covent Garden in 1980. Twenty-five years later, Jones's era-defining edge continues to attract headlines. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the V&A, the Louvre, The Fashion Institute of Technology and the Brooklyn Museum, the Kyoto Costume Institute, and the Australian National Gallery. Visit Stephen Jones' website
Derek Sugden (Engineering Design)
Derek Sugden, structural engineer and acoustician, was a founder partner and principal of both ARUP Associates and ARUP Acoustics. His knowledge and straightforward approach to building design and engineering, linked to his passion for music has given his expertise a leading edge since the mid 1960s. He understands architecture and construction so that he is able to influence a building’s design when he advises on acoustic problems. He has been involved in the creation and conservation of many concert halls and opera houses in the UK and Europe over many years, including the Snape Concert Hall, the Theatre Royal Glasgow, auditoria at various Oxford and Cambridge Colleges, and the Buxton and Glyndebourne Opera Houses.
Kim Wilkie (Landscape Design)
Kim Wilkie is a landscape architect whose environmental designs are inspired by both memory and imagination. He makes considered and substantial interventions based on a deep knowledge of historic context. Having studied history at Oxford and environmental design at the University of California, Berkeley, Kim set up his landscape studio in London in 1989 and has since won international acclaim. He continues to teach at Berkeley; writes about land and place; and is an active member of national committees on landscape and environmental policy in the UK. Recent work includes the V&A garden, the Thames Landscape Strategy and Floodscape projects and land sculptures at Heveningham Hall and Boughton Park. Visit Kim Wilkie's website
The incoming Honorary RDIs are:
Konstantin Grcic (Furniture Design)
Since his graduation from the Royal College of Art in 1990, Konstantin Grcic has built up a reputation for innovative design that is highly sophisticated, yet of a deceptively simple appearance. His cabinet-making apprenticeship at Parnham College in the mid-1980s gave him a profound understanding of materials and the design potential yielded by the production process. Grcic applies an analytical rigor to his work, producing formally disciplined design solutions of a utilitarian, minimalist form, which are often enlivened with a certain humour and wit, but are always grounded in the way that people will respond to, and use, the finished product. He set up his own studio in Munich in 1991 and has since worked across furniture and product design with clients including Magis, Vitra Editions, Krups, Flos and Muji, and has curated several exhibitions. Visit Konstantin Grcic's website
Pierre Paulin (Furniture Design)
Born in 1927, Paulin evolved as one of the most distinctive furniture designers of the 1960s, whose highly imaginative Ribbon (1966) and Tongue (1967) chairs, produced by Artifort, became emblematic creations that defined the relaxed and innovative design of that decade, culminating in the commission to decorate President Georges Pompidou's private quarters at the Palais de l'Elysee in 1970, and the public seating for the Louvre. In 1983 Paulin's diverse and distinguished career was rewarded with a retrospective at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. Pierre Paulin has endured as one of the most distinctive and versatile designers of his generation, able to operate with a fluent styling grounded in an innovative use of materials and technologies. Visit Pierre Paulin's website
Martha Schwartz (Landscape Design)
Martha Schwartz combines the requirements of environmentally sound practice with complex social issues, and brings a strong aesthetic focus to each of her projects to create value, a sense of identity, and determine the sustainability of a landscape. With her considerable talent and experience of over 30 years, Schwartz has applied this approach to national and international projects ranging in scale and scope from public squares, parks, master plans, urban redevelopment, reclamation, and mixed-use developments to art commissions and private residences. Her diverse portfolio includes the striking Grand Canal Square, in Dublin’s Docklands, Exchange Square in Manchester, the Massar Children’s Discovery Centre in Damascus, the Marina Linear Park in San Diego, and the Mesa Arts Centre, Arizona. She has received numerous awards for her work and is also a Professor in Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Visit Martha Schwartz's website
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