RCA Rector Sir Christopher Frayling opened the second part of the graduate show this morning with a rousing speech pointing to all the significant design movements that the hallowed halls have spawned. In terms of heritage and reputation it’s certainly one of, if not the finest institution to study design in the world.
With this in mind you couldn’t help scanning the various courses, or platforms as they’re called at the RCA, for tomorrow’s design movement, despite Frayling’s point that it’s only with hindsight that one is able to discern the significance of emerging trends.
And what did we find? Sam Hecht’s Platform 12 (which he teaches with Andre Klauser and Durrell Bishop) is where the exciting things are happening. Hecht and friends’ ability to impart their understanding of industrial design – pushing students to think about improvement within the bounds of reality but still creatively – is evident in each of the results.
Platform 6, overseen by Michael Marriott and Luke Pearson is about function in its purest form and follows design from idea to production taking every aspect into consideration. Whilst the end products might lack the wow factor of some of the more conceptual platforms, talking to the students it’s clear they’ve been given the tools to understand design for modern needs and concerns and how to turn an idea into a product. It’s worth saying also that these products were flawlessly finished.
Platform 8 under the instruction of Julia Lohmann and Gabi Klasmer is more experimental, cultivating creativity in a more abstract sense. As an antidote to the more rational platforms, Lohmann’s brood have struck an impressive balance exploring different possibilities whilst remaining relevant and functional.
As Frayling indicated, trends were indeed tricky to discern at this stage but what’s certain is that the RCA has a roster of tutors that are unrivalled and nearly of them alumni, which says a lot for the institution and how it’s regarded by the students and powers that be. The announcement of Tord Boontje as Ron Arad’s successor as Head of Design products mightn’t be to everyone’s taste (and certainly to most people’s surprise) but if history is anything to go by, we’re sure the RCA knows what it’s doing.