This year marks the Royal College of Art’s centenary year, with the celebrations centring on a 180 000 exhibition which commemorates the central role design from the college has played in shaping the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Unusually, the college has opted for a graphics group to design the exhibition, entitled Design of the Times: One hundred years of the Royal College of Art. Graphic Thought Facility, set up by RCA old boys Andrew Stevens and Paul Neale, working with Russell Warren-Fisher, has designed graphics for exhibitions at the Design Museum in the past. It is creating the exhibition concept for this project.

‘The move into working in three dimensions, especially since we brought on an exhibition designer who doubles as a project manager, was a natural one,’ says GTF partner Stevens.

The 1260m2 exhibition comprises over 500 exhibits and is the largest show ever to be mounted by the college. Its concept spans three parallel stories: the story of the RCA; of design education in relation to industry and commerce; and of some of the ground-breaking designs in everything from cars to clothes and posters.

It will be set up chronologically, with a selection of the exhibits coming from the Victoria and Albert Museum. ‘We’ve created a dramatic backdrop for the early part of the exhibition,’ says Stevens. ‘There’s a narrative to accompany each period, and traces of colour carry through from one gallery to the next,’ adds Stevens.

Audio-visual elements are also part of the concept. GTF has designed all graphics and literature for the exhibition, which runs from 7 February to 20 March at the Royal College of Art. The exhibition is curated by former Design Museum curator Claire Catterall and funded by Korean electronics firm LG Electronics.

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