5 important things that happened in design this week

Apple’s Jony Ive took up a position at the Royal College of Art, and the London Design Festival announced its line-up – the important design news from the last seven days.

The RCA took on Jony Ive as its new chancellor

Dyson building, Royal College of Art Battersea campus. © Richard Haughton.

Best known for iPhones, iPods and MacBooks, Apple’s chief design officer Sir Jony Ive announced this week that he will now be taking on an educational role.

From this summer, he will replace Sir James Dyson as chancellor at the Royal College of Art (RCA), London’s well-known postgraduate arts university.

Ive has a prolific background in industrial design and the RCA says that his involvement will allow the RCA to fully embrace more digital and technology-led courses and research, and define itself as a “STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths)” college.

Currently, the RCA – which brands itself as an “art and design postgraduate university” – has a mix of Master (MA) courses, ranging from fine art to graphic, textile, service, digital and product design to architecture and critical writing, many of which are traditional disciplines. Taking on Ive could see the RCA move towards more digital and tech-focused courses in the future.

Ive’s move into the position is not surprising given Apple’s recent drive to focus on design education and improve the general public’s accessibility to this, as shown through the free workshops that now take place at many of the brand’s global stores.

Ive takes up the role of chancellor in July 2017.

Dundee University topped The Guardian’s league tables

The Waterfront, Dundee © Neil Williamson

Scottish city Dundee is investing more and more in design, arts and culture. With the V&A Museum of Design set to open there next year and the second ever Dundee Design Festival taking place this month, it is not surprising the university has also climbed the league tables for the subject group.

The Guardian’s university league tables for 2018 revealed this week that Dundee University is the best place to study design and crafts in the UK. It beat Goldsmiths, Leeds College of Art and Loughborough to the top spot, having not been in the top 10 at all last year.

The results were calculated based on several factors, including student satisfaction, student to staff ratio, spend per student, entry requirements, degree results and career prospects.

While students’ entry grades were lower than competing universities, students were found to be pretty happy, as Dundee soared in student satisfaction with courses, teaching and tutor feedback.

To see the top 100 universities for design and crafts in 2018 according to The Guardian, head to the newspaper’s league tables here.

Tokyo 2020 launched a public competition – again

Harmonized chequered emblem – the logo of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, by Asao Tokolo

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games has not been without its controversies. From ditching the original logo due to plagiarism claims, to the Japanese Government dropping the late architect Zaha Hadid’s original stadium design due to excessive costs, the design process of the games has not run smoothly.

Alongside this, a public competition was launched in 2015 asking members of the public to pitch in with new logo ideas, after the original one was dropped – a controversial move in the design world, given that applicants need not have any design experience.

This week, the Tokyo 2020 committee announced that it would be requesting the public’s help again by asking them to submit design concepts for the games’ Olympic and Paralympic mascots.

The committee has said the competition will give the public “a unique opportunity to participate in the design and selection process”, given how “important” mascots are in Japanese culture.

Applicants have from 1-14 August to submit their designs, after which a mascot selection panel will shortlist concepts. The final decision, however, will be put to primary school children in Japan, who will get to vote on their favourite.

It is difficult to know whether the competition could be an uplifting community-focused venture, which will successfully improve the public’s involvement in both national sport and design projects, or whether it will be a failure and just another glitch to add to the Tokyo 2020 list. We will have to wait and see what concepts come out of it.

For more details on the competition, head to the Tokyo 2020 website.

The Design Museum opened an exhibition devoted to California

© Luke Hayes

California is best-known for its plethora of forward-thinking design, digital and technology companies situated in Silicon Valley, including Apple, eBay, Adobe, Facebook and Intel. At the other end of the design spectrum, its surfer and skate style has been a key influence in fashion.

This week, the Design Museum opened a new exhibition that brings California to London. California: Designing Freedom is made up of over 200 exhibits, which are divided into five themes, looking at different attitudes and design trends of the US state, from the last 50 years.

Everything from Google’s self-driving car Waymo, to early videogame graphics, an original Apple 1 computer and exhibits from Burning Man festival will be on show.

California: Designing Freedom runs until 15 October 2017 at the Design Museum, 224-238 Kensington High Street, London W8 6AG. For more information, head to the Design Museum’s site.

London Design Festival announced its programme for 2017

LDF celebrates its 15th year in 2017, and this week, the annual design festival announced a selection of collaborators, exhibitions and installations.

This includes a colourful installation by textile designer Camille Walala, which is set to be based at Broadgate Circus, Liverpool Street, and a tapestry-inspired piece by Ross Lovegrove.

Just as the London Design Biennale was a new edition last year, Design Frontiers will launch this year, which will take place at Somerset House and will see 30 international designers creating installations and exhibits based on the concept of “the future of design”.

LDF runs from 16-24 September at venues across London, and more details are expected to be released in coming months.


Got a design story? Get in touch sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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