If Design Week covered all the summer design degree shows, there would be no room in the magazine for anything else from May to July.
So, of all the shows, we maintain the Royal College of Art’s is the one to feature partly because of the institution’s postgraduate remit and the advanced, specialist nature of its courses, and partly because of the questioning attitude with which it aims to instil in its students. Also, if a college claims to produce the cream of global design talent, we need to keep an eye on it.
The Design Products show is of particular interest this year because its students started in 2009, at the same time as course leader Ron Arad’s replacement, Tord Boontje.
Arad is firmly in the Modernist camp, creating bold, simple shapes with an organic twist, and his rebellious personality seemed to fit well with the RCA. By contrast, Boontje’s work is delicate, flowery and ornate, and his personality gentler than Arad’s.
But if there were fears that these differences in style and personality might affect the quality of the output, they seem to have been unfounded.This year’s work has a strong theme of open-source design, 3D printing and deconstruction, with interaction design exerting an increasingly important influence on product design.
Traditional product creation and innovation, however, are also well represented in the work of Yoo-Kyung Shin, who has intruded metal into paper to make it a sculptural material, and Benjamin Whistle, who has rethought the coat hook as a satisfying-looking ball and clip mechanism.