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The Royal College of Art Goes Festive! Christmas Fête and Tate Christmas Cards

If you're looking to inject some originality into your Christmas giving this year, you'd be well advised to start your shopping at the RCA. From 9–11 December 2016, the Royal College of Art will be abuzz with artists and designers from across the Schools, selling their work at the RCA’s annual Christmas Fête. Designs by the winners of Tate’s annual Christmas card collaboration with the RCA's School of Communication are also on sale at the College shop and the Tate website.

Hosted by the RCA Student Union, the Christmas Fête is a celebratory event, where visitors can buy a range of new work by RCA practitioners – students and staff. Coming together from across 16 programmes in the Schools of Fine Art, Communication, Architecture, Design, Material and Humanities, all profits will go directly to the makers. Visitors have the opportunity to buy intriguing and thoughtful pieces while meeting the artists and designers of today and tomorrow. Prices range from £1 to £600.

Textiles, ceramics and prints will jostle alongside glassware, organic silver and gold-plated jewellery from JwllryByJade and sew-on jewellery by Deborah Stack, as well as concrete planters by award-winning designer Kezia Regan, whose recent clients include Topshop and Eley Kishimoto.

Kamonnart Ongwandee will present fabrics woven by women artisans in Sakon Nakhon province, Thailand, while Vehicle Design student Anand Asinkar and his design practice Teabags Workshop have turned their hand to ‘doll-bags’, aiming to extend the life of the gift bag and evoke emotional bonds to the object through storytelling. The bags, dressed as angels to symbolise ‘messengers of goodwill’, each have their own character and story.

For those looking to fill their pantry, there will honey whiskey from Wiltshire bees by Rosanna Reed and family. Rarity and seasonality are also celebrated in truffle-infused eggs by Sylvian De Bellis. Housed in a mouth-blown glass dome, the eggs are inspired by the designer's parents, who hunt for truffles in Switzerland with their truffling dogs.       

Rezzan Hasoglu, studying on the Design Products progamme, has designed vases and bowls that will bring sunshine to the winter fête. Inspired by reminiscences of the summer days spent by the Aegean coast and Greek Islands, Hasoglu’s works are made using a combination of the Çeşm-i Bülbül technique (a traditional filigree glass technique adapted by the Ottoman Empire from Murano in the eighteenth century) and the incalmo method. All the vessels are made by local craftsmen at the Glass Furnace, Istanbul.

Fellow Design Products student Philip Crewe will be selling his alternative to a faux Christmas tree. Tactile and ‘empathetic’, the tree is made from European Oak and wool felt from the Netherlands. It can be easily assembled, allowing the owner to then add decorations, a participatory role that is important to Crewe in this and his other designs.

Crewe sees Christmas as the ‘festival of the vernacular’. He continues, ‘as a professional designer/maker studying at the RCA, my practice is inherently excluded from the wonderful world of vernacular creativity but my aim with my work is to create Storied Objects, things that open up possibilities for the people who engage with them.’ 

The Fête is an opportunity to share ideas with new audiences and peers in a commercial context. Francesca Tamse from the RCA Student Union comments, ‘We have students who have never shared their work with the public, whereas others, such as alumni and staff, have had more experience – so there is this community of makers that really makes the fête worth checking out.’ 

Crewe describes the experience of selling his own products at the RCA Fête as ‘nerve-wracking but vital’ – it is part of the RCA learning process, where students are continually encouraged to discuss their work with audiences.

Jewellery designer Jessica Pass also appreciates the opportunity to meet with the public, commenting, ‘I hope to set up my own jewellery brand after graduating, so for me, it’s a chance to test which pieces appeal to a wider audience. After the Fête I can take on board any suggestions, and continue to refine the designs and range of sizes before production next year.’ 

The College's other festive offering are the annual Tate Christmas Cards designed by students at the RCA. Students from Visual Communication and Animation submitted designs from which nine winning images were selected by designer Andrzej Klimowski, Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication, and the Tate product development team. This is the fifth year that the RCA/Tate collaboration has taken place.

The 2016 winners are Tuchi (Marta Hernandez Galan), Jiun Huang, Mitko Karakolev, William Davey, Rachel Hill, Mirry Stolzenberg and Yiyu Lam. They drew on a range of influences, with personal and childhood memories providing strong inspiration. From snowfalls, sledging and The Twelve Days of Christmas, to a Japanese festive figure using a smart-phone to navigate while carrying a sack of presents, the cards provide a wide range of lively and thoughtful designs. 

Jeff Willis, Senior Tutor in Visual Communication at the RCA, commented: ‘This self-contained project always attracts an enthusiastic response from our students who see this as an opportunity to work with the Tate and produce artwork that reaches an audience.’ 

Rosey Blackmore, Merchandise Director of Tate Enterprises, added, 'As ever, the standard was fantastic, it truly does get more and more impressive each year, and I think this was the best ever.' 

The cards are for sale via the Tate Shop and – for RCA staff and students – in the College shop.

RCA Christmas Fête opening hours:

9–11 December, daily from 12–8pm.


Private View (invitation only): Thursday 8 December, 6.30–9pm

On Sunday 11 December from 2–6pm there will be a Parent and Children's Afternoon, where children of all ages will be able to take part in free, festive workshops led by students.


Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore