Royal College of Art Degree Show 2011

Applied Art, Architecture, Communications, Design, Fashion, Textiles and Humanities come together at Kensington in a remarkable gathering of design talent.

The RCA degree exhibition has traditionally represented the elite of student art and design for generations. From architecture through car design, eccentric to pragmatic; it covers it all to the highest standard. Not one inch of space was left empty, although never once impeaching upon the ergonomics. The galleries were rightly packed with gleeful spectators. This is the college that takes extraordinary talent and potential to the limits and allows it to develop under its watchful eye before setting it free with the highest of credentials.

It is hard to hone in on one piece, or several for that matter, such was the scale and quality. Furniture, fashion, animation, pottery and more; it was all there. However, to highlight a couple from a myriad, innovative techniques were on show, as one student, Tien Sheng Huang, had further explored a technique for joinery in which he used the expansion and detraction of metal in order to avoid the use of screws. Not only that, but he also managed to make some rather sleek furniture with it. In the same section, another student, Maximillian Gubbins, had taken his ideas down an entirely different route – deciding to take several radio transmitters and change the ending to an episode of ‘The Archers’ in one part of London. Perhaps the legalities and point were unclear, but it certainly left one wondering what the consequences might well have been between the communities of older generations who so adore the program.

Perhaps it was the section dedicated to architecture that combined both pragmatism and aesthetics to its pinnacle point. One work, designed by Robert Ware and entitled ‘Repository of the Eternal Now’, showed an outstanding piece of invention, whereby he had made a 3-D print of St. Paul’s Cathedral then added an extension that was being continuously formed by the data from the ever changing stock market. It combined futuristic technology, innovation and beauty, seeing both ingeniousness and craftsmanship come together.

In other sections, tens of screens showing the wonders that are possible with animation, with even the stairwell leading to it incorporating works that added a mystical ambience to the show. The car designs did not fail to impress, with students demonstrating their potential to look to the future in terms of both energy resourcefulness and stream-line design. Then lastly the fashion design section had some exquisite textiles.

Having once again greatly impressed, it would be fair to say that the Royal College of Art is most definitely deserving of its status as being at the forefront of teaching art and design; a status it only looks more likely to confirm as the years go on. Words & Photo © Max Costley 2011