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George Hardie has set the table with a designer’s tool kit, Gerald Scarfe’s Maggie is rattling a saucepan, and Peter Brookes’ black cat has hungry eyes for a mouse.

George Hardie RDIGerald ScarfePeter Brookes RDI

These are just three tasters of ten culinary artworks now on display in the Vaults restaurant at the RSA. Designed by members of the Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) they have been selected from a unique collection in the RSA Archive.

RDIs are appointed annually by the RSA at an awards ceremony and dinner. Each year one of them is commissioned to design the tickets and menu cards for the event. In the past this has been done by some of the UK’s most influential graphic designers and illustrators including Abram Games RDI, Quentin Blake RDI, Margaret Calvert RDI, Neville Brody RDI, and Peter Saville RDI, to name a few.

Over many decades these designs have resulted in a rich and idiosyncratic body of work. The design brief is always open to interpretation and this has generated a wide range of responses using typography, illustration, photography, and collage. The menu artworks on view have been chosen for their engaging and illustrative approach and are united by their distinctive ingenuity and playful humour.

I urge you to a take look at these visual feasts the next time you visit the RSA. They have been reproduced for our enjoyment by Mike Dempsey RDI with the kind permission of: Peter Blake RDI, Peter Brookes RDI, Dika Eckersley, Sara Fanelli Hon RDI, Michael Foreman RDI, David Gentleman RDI, George Hardie RDI, Roger Law RDI, Gerald Scarfe RDI, The Ronald Searle Cultural Trust and The Sayle Literary Agency.

Melanie Andrews is Manager of the Royal Designers for Industry at the RSA. Follow her on Twitter @Melanie_Andrews.

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