The Royal College of Art hasn’t made it into the Hot 50 previously. Its high-profile rector Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, now also chairman of the beleaguered Arts Council, made the listing when he was chairman of the Design Council, and its inclusive design arm, the Helen Hamlyn Centre, features this year . But though it fulfils its remit admirably, the London postgraduate art and design college wasn’t deemed to have gone beyond the brief before.
Last year saw the inspired celebration of its 150 years with the graduate show, The Great Exhibition, which was housed in a tent by the Albert Memorial in London’s Kensington Gardens, across the road from the college building, courtesy of funding from The Conran Foundation, the educational charity set up by Sir Terence Conran which also merits a mention here.
Curated by Claire Catterall, the show put a new slant on graduate exhibitions, taking the emerging designers out of the college and into the public gaze. It also doffed a cap to Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851, which arguably led to the formation of the RCA six years later.
The tent, created by architect Gerrard O’Connell, is likely to make a second appearance this year, as current students have lobbied to have it back for their show.