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10 RCA Alumni: Beazley Designs of the Year 2020

This year’s most innovative designs across fashion, architecture, digital, transport, product and graphic design, have been nominated by the public and design experts from around the world for the Beazley Designs of the Year awards. The exhibition is due to open at the Design Museum on 2 December but is also accessible virtually.

The exhibition, which will feature all the nominees including the ten RCA graduates and is curated by another RCA graduate, Emily King (MA History of Design) who commented:

'Beazley Designs of the Year, will offer a vital chance to recap where we were when the virus took hold. It will require careful construction and precise story telling in order to establish the big themes and preoccupations from that period. The show will be arranged chronologically, suggesting a countdown from January 2019 to the moment our attention shifted in late January 2020. More than merely an assessment of the past, it will be a frame for exploring the future.'

Incredible projects designed by RCA Alumni feature in the outstanding line-up:

Material Institute, Assemble
Material Institute, Assemble

Assemble, MA Architecture
Material Institute

Material Institute is a free education and community space dedicated to the design and manufacture of textiles and fashion in New Orleans. The Institute’s education programme focuses on hands-on experimentation, drawing on craft techniques, technology and international expertise.

Co-founded and designed by London-based architects and artists Assemble and, commissioned by MONA, it involved the transformation of a former car mechanics’ garage. Sections of cinder blocks were removed and large windows added, leaving a series of visible openings with rugged edges. The workshop furniture was designed and welded on site by Assemble, who continue working with staff and students to develop the schools programme.

Caitlin Young, Breast Friends
At the bar, Caitlin Young

Caitlin Young, MA Animation, 2019
Breast Friends

This animated short film explores the conflicting and often comic effects of the pressure to conform to Western feminine beauty. Caitlin Young (MA Animation, 2019) hand-drew the film and made extensive use of photocopied layers of texture, before the final animation was completed frame by frame in Photoshop.  

The film was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in 2019.

Helen Kirkum, RCA 2016
Shoe collaboration with Helen Kirkum, Jacob Patterson

Helen Kirkum, MA Fashion, 2016
Reconstructed Superstars Spring Summer 2020

These reconstructed shoes are designed by Helen Kirkum (MA Fashion 2016) in collaboration with fashion designer Bethany Williams. Second-hand Adidas Superstar sneakers form the base of each shoe. Each shoe in a pair is different, and each pair playfully crafted using a variety of recycled materials such as waste materials from tents, toys, samples and scraps.

Three pairs of the reconstructed sneakers had their debut as part of Bethany Williams’ Autumn/Winter 2020 Collection at London Fashion Week, in collaboration with Magpie Project UK.

Frith Kerr, Kiss my genders graphic identity and typeface
Kiss my genders graphic identity and typeface, Frith Kerr

Frith Kerr, MA Visual Communication, 1997 
Kiss my genders graphic identity and typeface

This typeface and graphic identity was commissioned for The Hayward Gallery exhibition Kiss My Genders, which explored how artists have represented identities that do not conform to traditional binary gender categories over the past 50 years.

The exhibition identity and typeface were designed to reflect the fluidity of gender identities and, like the artists featured in the show, resist being compartmentalised.

Jack Herring, Soluboard

Jack Herring, MA Design Products, 2017 and InnovationRCA start-up Jiva Materials

Jiva’s Soluboard is a non-toxic, fully recyclable alternative to the epoxy resin and fibreglass of conventional circuit boards. Soluboard dissolves in hot water, leaving a residue of compostable natural fibres, water that can go down a domestic drain, and electronic components for recycling.

If fully implemented on a global scale, the material could reduce the carbon footprint of the printed circuit board industry by 60 per cent.

Fabien Cappello, Artes y Oficios
Artes y Oficios, Fabien Cappello

Fabien Cappello, MA Design Products, 2009
Artes y Oficios

The Mexico City-based French designer Fabien Cappello focuses on elements of Mexican culture and materials that are often overlooked or underrated. Rather than mimic pre-existing designs, Cappello brings together objects, materials and colours that appeal directly to our senses.

Kate Strudwick, For.Form
For.Form, Kate Strudwick 2019

Kate Strudwick, MA Innovation Design Engineering, 2019

For.Form is an innovative packaging system that reduces the potential for evidence to be contaminated and improves evidence-handling from crime scene to courtroom.

Developed through interviews, site visits and user-testing, the toolkit includes a transparent material that can be moulded around the evidence and an embedded chip to enable the chain of custody to be tracked.

The product is currently in a prototype phase, but it has attracted interest from forensic packaging manufacturers.

Ooho Capsules
Ooho!, Pierre Paslier, Guillaume Couche and Rodrigo García González, MA Innovation Design Engineering 2014

Pierre Paslier and Rodrigo García Gonzalez, MA Innovation Design Engineering, 2014
Ooho Capsules

In a bid to reduce plastic waste, more than 30,000 Ooho edible drinks capsules were provided to runners at the London Marathon in April 2019.

The Ooho pods can be completely consumed or bitten into to release the liquid inside. They are made from Notpla, a biodegradable material composed of seaweed and plants.

Designers Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez and Pierre Paslier have applied the material across a range of products, from edible packaging to coatings for cardboard takeaway boxes.

Milo Mcloughlin-Greening,
Batch.shield, Milo Mcloughlin-Greening

Milo Mcloughlin-Greening, MA Design Products, 2018 is a sustainable 3D printing designer and manufacturer, based in London. One of their products is the Batch.shield visor, designed in 2019 and distributed widely during the coronavirus pandemic. abide by the ethos of producing locally, so that materials can be easily tracked as they enter and leave the factory. They also repurpose materials, avoid landfill and generate minimal waste.

Rombout Frieling, MA Industrial Design Engineering, 2008 - Dyson Fellow
Station of Being

By transforming the bus stop into a more welcoming and less stressful environment for the traveler, the Station of Being in Umeå, Sweden encourages drivers to use public transport more often.

The bus stop’s 'smart' roof uses light and sound to alert travelers that a bus is approaching and each bus line has its own unique sound. The timber pods within the structure rotate automatically to protect travelers from the weather without requiring any power and allow them to interact by creating social spaces.

Since these innovative bus stops launched, there has been a 40 percent increase in the use of electric buses.

Supported by EU project Ruggedised. 

Find out more about Alumni RCA.