2021: A Year in Review at the RCA
2021 has seen extraordinary growth at the RCA reinforcing our reputation as a world leader in Art & Design education. With huge achievements from our students pushing forward the next generation of Art & Design practitioners, our alumni start-ups delivering impact in industry as well as building on our design focus on global issues with college-wide projects such as Grand Challenge and the Terra Carta Design Lab.
Here are just a few highlights from a remarkable year.
- The RCA collaborated with other universities on the ESRC-funded project Preserving Antibiotics through Safe Stewardship (PASS) to tackle antibiotic resistance in healthcare.
- For the first time, our annual Work in Progress show took place online as a digital platform, accompanied by a programme of digital events.
- Kerry Curtis was appointed as our new Dean of the School of Communication following an extensive international search.
- Sir Peter Bazalgette, a leading figure in the media and creative industries, was appointed as RCA Pro-Chancellor & Chair of Council. He takes up his role as Chair in March 2022.
- World-renowned designer and champion for design education and equality of opportunity in the creative industries Virgil Abloh joined the RCA as a Visiting Professor. Sadly, Virgil passed away this November leaving a huge legacy that will continue to impact future generations of creative practitioners.
- The RCA was ranked the number 1 university for art & design internationally for the seventh consecutive year according to the QS World University Rankings.
- We partnered with the London Business School (LBS) so that students from both institutions can benefit from complementary expertise to enhance their innovation and entrepreneurial skills.
- Business leader Fields Wicker-Miurin OBE FKC was appointed as Deputy Chair of Council and Chair of the Planning & Resources Committee.
- Research England’s Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) placed the RCA in the top 10% of Higher Education Providers in England for Public & Community Engagement.
- Our MA Painting student Emily Gillbanks won the de Laszlo Foundation Prize at the Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition for her work Three Things.
- The Design Age Institute launched The Design Age Directory - a national directory for design and healthy ageing - as it reached its one-year milestone.
- Our 2017 MA Fashion graduate Bianca Saunders was announced as a finalist of the €300,000 LVMH prize for rising stars in fashion design.
- The RCA’s Senior Management Team published its Draft Action Plan Towards Becoming an Anti-Racist Institution.
- Two RCA staff and graduate collectives; Cooking Sections and Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S) were shortlisted for the 2021 Turner Prize.
- The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA announced a partnership with Invisible Creations® to improve the lives of older people through home technology.
- We collaborated with Imperial College Business School and a consortium of business partners to launch Wicked Acceleration Labs, aimed at speeding up the resolution of the world’s wicked problems.
- Our MA Design Products graduate Dani Clode’s remarkable work with brain scientists at UCL showed how the brain adapts to a robotic third thumb.
- RCA research into gold supply chain sustainability was showcased through online event ‘Sustainability in the 21st Century: how policies impact gold supply chains’.
- We brought our graduate show online again with the launch of RCA2021, complemented by a number of accompanying satellite shows in physical settings.
- Our MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering student Minwook Paeng made headlines around the world with his 'third eye' device.
- We launched the RCA T-Shirt Shop – a new annual enterprise raising funds to support students to study at the RCA.
- Five RCA alumni & student projects made the finals of the Mayor of London's Entrepreneur programme, out of a total 24 finalists, with a win in the Health category for Laura Salisbury’s start-up company KnitRegen.
- The RCA Materials Science Research Centre won an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Sustainable Digital Society award to drive its mission around sustainability in textiles.
- An incredible seventeen RCA alumni were among the artists selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021.
- Our Royal Visitor, HRH The Prince of Wales and our Chancellor, Sir Jony Ive, officially launched the Terra Carta Design Lab to find credible design solutions to climate change.
- A unique rideable bench design by our MA Intelligent Mobility students won the Ford Fund Smart Mobility Challenge.
- We worked with A-COLD-WALL* & SR_A Founder, Samuel Ross alongside the Design Museum and British Fashion Council on the Black British & POC Artist Grants 2021.
- A panel of design experts from the RCA helped to decide the winning entry in The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Emblem Competition.
- We announced our partnership with Extreme E to conduct ocean research to support students and researchers design responses to the idea of a New Economic Model for the Ocean (NEMO).
- The RCA was announced as the official Heritage Partner of the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
- Our MA Design Products students, Textiles Circularity Centre and Design Age Institute exhibited at the London Design Festival 2021.
- Phoebe Hayes (MA Visual Communication) and Minwook Paeng (MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering) became our 2021 Pokémon Scholars.
- We celebrated the third year of our OPPO partnership as RCA graduates humanised technology for the London Design Festival 2021.
- The RCA Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC) partnered with Lexus to explore the evolution of luxury mobility in the 21st Century.
- Our PhD candidate Wayne Binitie’s Polar Zero exhibition opened at the Glasgow Science Centre ahead of the United Nations climate conference COP26.
- RCA researcher Laura Salisbury was awarded the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to develop her InnovationRCA start-up KnitRegen making smart textile garments for stroke patients.
- The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design announced the Design.Different Season of events exploring inclusive design across industries and practices.
- Logitech bolstered diversity and inclusion at the RCA with a £1m donation for a new scholarship programme tackling student hardship.
- We launched Ethical Practices to Guide Innovation – our first free online short course via FutureLearn.
- InnovationRCA announced the eight new design start-ups joining its incubation programme for 2021 from do-it-yourself permanent tattoos to mycelium leather alternatives.
- Graduates from across the School of Arts & Humanities exhibited alongside graduates from London’s other leading art schools at Saatchi Gallery for London Grads Now. 21.
- The Department for Transport unveiled the iconic new British Chargepoint for electric vehicles designed by the RCA and PA Consulting.
- Terra Carta Design Lab participants joined HRH The Prince of Wales and Sir Jony Ive for a unique event showcasing their work at COP26.
- MA Intelligent Mobility student Mingwei Liu was announced as winner of the Polestar Design Contest for his ‘glad to be dirty’ air-cleaning car.
- Zandra Rhodes, Stella McCartney and Harris Elliot joined our fashion alumni and the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at their Design.Fashion event to discuss inclusive design.
- Our MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering graduates SaltyCo launched their sustainable textiles capsule collection with Yoox.
- The RCA and Wandsworth Arts Fringe launched Creative Bursaries for five local artists or designers aged 16–25.