Art of the Royal College

The word ‘design’ has been included for the first time in the Royal College of Art’s identity, in a new version to be launched at the college’s Convocation tomorrow. RCA graphics tutor Alan Kitching designed the new marque, which features the strapline ‘Postgraduate art & design’ under the royal crest.

‘We resisted a name-change,’ says RCA rector Christopher Frayling. ‘It’s been around for 100 years and you don’t mess with that. But we needed to explain it better.’ People within the design community know what the RCA encompasses, he adds, but outsiders might perceive it as full of ‘easel-painters and sculptors’.

The brief called for something ‘elegant with a modern idiom’ that would work well on a fax or photocopy – something the current embossed crest fails to do.

Typography is in Eric Gill’s Joanna, as before, in a dark grey Pantone colour, while the crest is foil-blocked in red. A simpler ‘ink’ version has the crest in grey. Kitching says that he ‘went round the houses’ on typefaces (see blue ‘tombstone’ idea above), but returned to Joanna which was chosen by Derek Birdsall last time around. ‘He’s one of the best typographers about,’ says Kitching.

To keep things in the family, Gill Extra Bold is used prominently to the right of special letterheads to denote press release, fax or similar.

The layout of the letterhead reflects the new college structure (see News, page 4). The six schools will be listed down the left-hand side in grey, but each will have its own stationery with its own name picked out in red. This reflects the schools’ increasing autonomy, says Frayling.

Letters will be typed in black, ideally in New Century Schoolbook, says Kitching, who is working on guidelines for the application of the identity. He accepts, however, that it will be hard to police.

Degree certificates handed out tomorrow will also feature the gutsier Walbaum typeface. ‘When Joanna gets beyond a certain size, it doesn’t look good,’ explains Kitching.

Designer: Alan Kitching

Client: Royal College of Art

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