The winners of the London Design Medals 2022 have been announced a few days before the start of London Design Festival (17–25 September 2022), with costume designer Sandy Powell, architect Indy Johar, researcher Joycelyn Longdon and photographer Sir Don McCullin awarded with the annual accolade. The winning quartet was chosen from a panel of judges including Domenic Lippa, Jay Osgerby, Wallpaper* editor-in-chief Sarah Douglas, Justine Simons, Sir John Sorrell, Vicky Broackes and Jane Withers.

‘This year’s winners are representative of the breadth of design as a discipline,’ comments Ben Evans, London Design Festival director. ‘The 2022 Awards celebrate the often overlooked discipline of costume design, explore how design can help shape the way we view the world, and shine a light on redesigning the bureaucratic and institutional infrastructure of our cities and how we talk about climate change.’

London Design Medal – Sandy Powell

Portrait of Sandy Powell, winner of London Design Medal 2022
Photography: Tim Walker

A celebrated costume designer, Powell has worked in the industry for more than four decades, creating costumes for more than 50 films. Highlights from her career include the Oscar- and Bafta-winning costumes of The Favourite, Velvet Goldmine, and The Aviator

‘In film, it’s the people who have worked on the right project that year who get awarded. I’m very grateful and appreciate the fact that my work is recognised, but the London Design Medal is more exciting because it’s design across the board, not just me and other costume designers,’ says Powell. ‘This is a huge honour.’

‘It’s very exciting to see Sandy Powell as winner of this year’s London Design Medal,’ says London Design Biennale director Vicky Broackes. ‘Her spectacular body of work over the decades speaks for itself and almost everyone will have seen it, but perhaps without knowing it. It is wonderful to be celebrating the outstanding work of Powell and costume design as a genre, at which the UK absolutely excels.’

Emerging Design Medal – Joycelyn Longdon

Portrait of Jocelyn Longdon, Emerging Design Medal winner in the London Design Medals 2022

A PhD student at Cambridge University, Longdon is part of the Artificial Intelligence For Environmental Risk (AI4ER) programme. Her multidisciplinary approach combines machine learning, bioacoustics, forest ecology, indigenous knowledge and sociology, investigating the role of technology in forest conservation. 

‘I’m drawn to working on problems that are affecting those who live closest to nature, but are going to be the most vulnerable to it,’ she says. ‘If technology is going to play a bigger part in conservation, then I think people need to build that technology in equitable and respectful ways.’

Design Innovation Medal – Indy Johar

Portrait of Indy Johar, winner of Design Innovation Medal in the London Design Medals 2022

‘We’re in a moment where most of the world around us is going to have to be reimagined. Design is an act of synthesis, so I think it will play a central role across the material, social and institutional, and how they interweave,’ says Johar, an architect by training whose work through Dark Matter Labs creates institutions, instruments and infrastructures for a more equitable and sustainable future. 

Lifetime Achievement Medal – Sir Don McCullin

Portrait of Sir Don McCullin, winner of Lifetime Achievement Medal in the London Design Medals 2022
Photography: Matilda Temperley. © Don McCullin. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth 

British photojournalist Sir Don McCullin was recognised for his dark, black-and-white war photography and images of urban struggle. Over the years, his images have analysed the underside of society by depicting the oppressed and poverty-stricken social classes. 

Don McCullin photography
Don McCullin, U.S. Marines, the Citadel, Hue, 1968. Gelatin Silver Print, 31.4 x 47 cm / 12 3/8 x 18 1/2 inches. © Don McCullin. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth 

‘Everything you do with the camera is creative. It can be a lethal weapon, telling ugly truths, but it can also tell happy stories,’ he says. ‘Whatever I was doing, I always made sure I did it peacefully. Instead of a rifle, I took the camera.’

His 60 years in photography started upon his return from National Service with the RAF, in 1959. Back in London, he began photographing members of local gang The Guv’nors, which kick-started his career after he showed them to The Observer picture editor. He served as overseas correspondent for The Sunday Times Magazine, which led him to document war in Biafra in 1968, and victims of the African Aids epidemic. His portfolio covered the past century’s history and culture, spanning from the construction of the Berlin Wall to The Beatles. 

‘We award the London Design Medals to individuals who have had an enormous impact – either within the sector or on society,’ says Pentagram partner Dominic Lippa. ‘Don McCullin certainly fits into both categories. He has held up a mirror to both the creative industries and to the world through powerful images. The subjects and people in his photographs, his "eye" and the design of his images have had a profound effect on many of us.’ §