Saville is finally acknowledged as a major force in graphics

Rarely has there been such a strong graphics line-up for the Prince Philip Designers Prize, won last year by building services engineer Max Fordham

It is especially heartening to see Michael Peters, a founding father of design, among the contenders. The legendary branding designer already holds an OBE for his contribution and this year received the D&AD President’s Award from his acolyte Garrick Hamm. His influence will live on whatever this jury’s decision.

Of particular interest though is the inclusion of Peter Saville on the shortlist. Saville has inspired generations of creatives since the heyday of Factory Records in the late 1970s and 1980s and, more recently, helped reshape the image of his hometown Manchester as a happening place. But industry honours have largely eluded him.

A major retrospective at London’s Design Museum made sure Saville’s work will inspire future generations. Meanwhile, collaborations with the likes of architect David Adjaye – also a Prince Philip Designers Prize hopeful – for Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat and Adidas on trainer designs have provided new outlets for his talents.

Saville has had a chequered career, but the quality of his work shines through. It is remarkable that he has not been acknowledged more widely – and has reportedly been blocked by certain design factions when his name has been put forward for accolades.

The problem appears to be that he calls himself an art director – a title associated with advertising or publishing rather than design. But it is unthinkable that Britain’s best book, newspaper and magazine designers wouldn’t be eligible for a prize. Indeed, many have already won them. Nor has an early focus on the music business held anyone back.

That Saville is a contender for the Prince Philip Designers Prize shows up those who do him down on such flimsy grounds. He produces great work, whatever his title, and has helped to build creative standards the rest of the industry aspires to.

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