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How do you think architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw might raise design’s profile in the arts through his presidency of the Royal Academy of Arts and what should we as an industry do to help him?

‘The Royal Academy of Arts restricts its membership to painters, sculptors and architects. Design is not seemingly recognised. Surely the question is: what relevance do designers have to the RA and can they, or, indeed, should they establish a viable presence there? Do open routes for communication now that Sir Nicholas Grimshaw is president, but an organisation that has real social, commercial and intellectual value would be more appropriate.’

David Chaloner, Director, Conran & Partners

‘Nick Grimshaw has quite enough on his plate grappling with a very troubled ship, which is rife with infighting, corruption, resignations and discontented members who feel that the RA is out of control. He will need to listen to his colleagues before embarking on any ‘missions’. I share Robert Hughes’ view that the heart of the RA should be about education. Art is fundamental to any civilised society.’

Mike Dempsey, Founding partner, CDT Design

‘Fresh from a conversation with Thomas Heatherwick, I’m not sure what an architect is, let alone an artist. Perhaps we are all just designers. This can only be a healthy state of affairs and I look to Nick Grimshaw’s new presidency to promote the exchange of ideas across professional boundaries. The RA could become the new catalyst for creative ferment, and the controversial Armani show was a step in the right direction. Wishful thinking: Grimshaw to convince Ronnie Scott’s to open up in the RA basement.’

Alan Morris, Architect, Swanke Hayden Connell


‘Sir Nicholas Grimshaw is in the ideal position to create a stronger design community. Invite some young designers in. Many think of the RA as a stuffy club, even after exhibitions such as Sensation. Create some more sensations, Sir Nick; make the RA the creative centre of Europe. And I’ve just read about a scheme to remove the traffic lights and street furniture from London’s Exhibition Road. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful opportunity for designers to work with Grimshaw to do the same for Piccadilly. It could become the finest creative street in Europe, with the RA at its centre.’

Brian Webb, Founder of Webb & Webb Design and

CSD President

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