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Dr Rathna Ramanathan Announced as New Head of RCA Visual Communication

Leading graphic designer and intercultural communication researcher Dr Rathna Ramanathan is to take up the post of Head of Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art from January 2015.

A practising  graphic designer, Dr Ramanathan is known for her research and practice in intercultural communication design and Indic typography as well as in non-mainstream publishing and experimental book design. Through her studio, Minus9 Design, she has worked with a range of clients including the British Council, Harvard University Press and UNICEF. She currently splits her time between India and the UK, where she has been directing design at Tara Books, India, since 1996, and has won multiple international design awards for book design. Notably, Dr Ramanathan‘s work in 2004 with BBC World Service helped the organisation connect with a new rural audience in India. She is currently completing the interior design for the first season of the highly reputed Murty Classical Library of India.

Alongside Dr Ramanathan‘s own design practice, she both curates exhibitions and writes for conferences and journals. She is the Association Typographique Internationale [ATypI] Country Delegate for India, and advises Adobe on the design of Indic typefaces. 

'Rathna is an accomplished, innovative, collaborative design professional with considerable academic experience,' said Professor Neville Brody, Dean of the School of Communication. 'Her deep subject knowledge, along with her creative ideas and energy will be a great asset to the School and to the College.' 

Professor Naren Barfield, Pro-Rector (Academic), said: 'Rathna‘s clear vision for the programme, alongside her thorough understanding of the relationships between practice, teaching and research, is one that really impressed the selection panel,” and added “Her appointment is very welcome news for the programme. It is clear that Neville Brody has a formidable leadership team in place to set the agenda for Communications for generations to come.' 

Dr Rathna Ramanathan said: 'To join the College at a time when visual communication as a discipline is undergoing a seismic shift in terms of its vocational positioning and intellectual relevance is exciting. The programme has a long history and vision that has radically examined the place and importance of visual communication in relation to culture and society. In my new role, I will continue to highlight the relevance and significance of an interdisciplinary and international vision of the subject that builds on the substantial history and traditions of the RCA.' 

Originally from Chennai, India, Dr Ramanathan gained a BA in Fine Art from the University of Madras. With a Master’s in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins, she received her PhD (English Little Presses, Book Design and Production, 1945–79) in 2006, from the University of Reading.

Dr Ramanathan is currently Route and Subject Leader, Design & Interaction at Central Saint Martins, London. Her previous roles have embraced leading workshops for Typecamp India, and teaching at London College of Communication and prominent design institutions in India.