Seventy-five years of industrial and product design education that has produced game-changing ideas from laptop computers to the Routemaster bus has been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize.
The Prize recognises the far-reaching contributions to the UK’s economy and social wellbeing made by BA Product Design and MA Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins, part of University of the Arts London.
First taught in 1938 as Design for Light Industry, the subject has evolved to focus as much on tackling social, environmental and quality of life issues as on developing new products.
Welcoming the recognition, Programme Director of Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design at CSM, Nick Rhodes, says: “We have taught product and industrial design here since the 1930s, and our alumni and lecturers continue to lead the profession, shaping the designed environment internationally, crossing all sectors from consumer electronics to furniture, transport systems to domestic appliances, services to social enterprise. In fact, our undergraduate offering has produced more Royal Designers for Industry in this discipline than any other course in the world.
“At Central Saint Martins we have always striven to produce product and industrial design graduates with great skill and creative ambition, people who will make real and positive impact in the world, and it is absolutely fantastic to be recognised for our achievement by this incredibly prestigious award which identifies our work and the profound impact of our discipline on the creative economy of the United Kingdom and beyond.”
Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of University of the Arts London, adds:
“I’m delighted for our staff, students and graduates that our excellence in industrial and product design has been recognised in this way. What they do fundamentally changes how we experience the world – how we communicate and socialise, how we work, how we engage politically, what our homes look and feel like. It’s this applied creativity that underpins all sectors of the UK economy, generates employment and attracts investment. I’m very proud that UAL is at the heart of it.”
Engagement with the creative and wider industries is a fundamental part of the courses, and students learn through working on live briefs with real clients. Projects have included working with Transport for London on reducing bicycle theft through better design to partnering with the London Borough of Camden on its Green Camden initiative to explore how design can reduce carbon emissions. Other industry partners include Absolut Vodka, Bloomberg, Christian Dior, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft and Nespresso.
Jeremy Till, Pro Vice-Chancellor of UAL and Head of Central Saint Martins, says:
“A big emphasis for students on these courses is on learning to ask better questions and recognise better answers. We want to nurture professionals who can rethink what individuals and companies want to achieve and how they can achieve it, and who can generate innovation rather than simply anticipating and planning for it. Industry partners want to work with us because it’s exactly that approach that keeps them ahead of the curve.”
Graduates from the courses include Bill Moggridge, who designed the first portable computer, Douglas Scott, responsible for the style of London’s iconic Routemaster bus, and Paul Priestman and Nigel Goode, who have worked with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains, and are now focused on designing a concept capsule for World View that will take passengers on balloon flights to the edge of the earth.
Current student projects include the Metabin designed by MA Industrial Design student Fernanda Costa, a small-scale home anaerobic digester that can ‘eat’ household waste such as food and cardboard and transform it into energy. She now works as Industrial Designer at start-up Loowatt, a waterless toilet system that turns human waste into energy and fertiliser.
Ten Royal Designers for Industry for product or industrial design are UAL graduates, over half the awards for this subject area.
Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are awarded every two years as part of the honours system to universities and colleges judged to be making an outstanding contribution to the intellectual, economic, cultural and social life of the nation. The prizewinners were announced on 21 November at St James’s Palace, and medals will be presented at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty The Queen in February 2014.