The Royal Society for Arts (RSA) has unveiled the nine recipients of the 2022 Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) title as it revises its structure to recognize speculative design, regenerative design and design research.
Each year, the RSA awards the RDI title to individuals who demonstrate “enduring excellence in design” and produce “work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society”, according to the RSA.
Superflux founders Anab Jain and Jon Ardern and Munich-based industrial designer Stephan Diez are among the new inductees, who were announced by RDI Faculty Master Tom Lloyd during a ceremony at RSA House.
Only 200 designers can be part of the group at a time, and its heritage dates back to its founding in 1936. Non-British designers can earn the title of Honorary Royal Designers. Current RDI includes illustrator Quentin Blake, who has held the title since 1981, and graphic designer Michael Wolff, who received the title in 2011.
Sebastian Cox received an RDI for his work in regenerative design. He is a designer, maker and environmental campaigner who takes a nature-based approach to his work in his zero waste studio in London.
Cox only uses wood harvested in the UK, including from its own forest in Kent. It practices coppicing, which is a forest management technique of repeatedly cutting down trees at the base (or stool) and allowing them to regrow to provide a sustainable supply of timber. This means that the raw materials used by Cox are positive.
In addition to modern digital manufacturing methods, Cox designs and manufactures furniture using traditional craftsmanship and green woodworking techniques, such as steam weaving and cleaving. Its design style brings “the softness of nature into modern spaces,” Lloyd said, adding that the furniture clearly communicates the origins of the materials and acts as “educators on the topics of biodiversity and degradation. of the climate”.
Anab Jain and Jon Ardern
Superflux founders Anab Jain and Jon Ardern have been recognized for their innovation in speculative design and awarded RDI titles. Founded in 2009, Superflux is both a design and experiential future company and a research and art practice.
Addressing topics such as climate change and algorithmic autonomy, Jain and Ardern seek to present the complex and interconnected nature of today’s challenges to diverse audiences. Their approach is a unique business strategy that works by inviting people into hypothetical worlds to expand their imaginations.
Lloyd described Superflux as “one of the first studios to pioneer a practice of speculative design, critical foresight, design fiction, and experiential futures in business”. Jain and Ardern’s work takes the form of client projects, cautionary tales, super-fiction and immersive simulations that test new ideas and themes, ultimately helping to identify blind spots and enabling strategic, informed and informed decision-making. long-term.
Product Design – Stefan Diez
Stefan Diez was awarded an RDI honorary title for his work in the field of product design, where he focuses on the design of furniture, lighting and accessories for the circular economy. He founded the Diez office in 2002, at the forefront of the transformation of product development and manufacturing methods.
Growing up in a family of fourth-generation carpenters inspired Diez’s “hands-on experimental approach” to his designs, Lloyd said. This concept is at the heart of his studio space formed in 2008, which is a carpentry-turned-workshop in central Munich.
The space aims to encourage cross-pollination, creative experimentation and analytical work. According to Lloyd, Diez believes that a good product “provides a tangible benefit to the user and it’s something they care about and want to preserve.”
Diez has also been responsible for the industrial design program at the University of Applied Arts Vienna since 2018.
Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin
Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin received honorary RDI for innovation in design research. The duo founded the research-based design studio Formafantasma in 2009 to carry out projects that investigate the ecological, historical, political and social powers that influence contemporary design. They conduct similar research as co-heads of the Geo-design department at Design Academy Einthoven.
Working from their studios in Milan and Rotterdam across multiple disciplines, such as product design, spatial design, strategic planning design and consulting, Trimarchi and Farresin support both client briefs and projects self-initiated. Lloyd explained how their portfolio exemplifies “cohesive visual language and meticulous research results”.
He adds that Trimarchi and Farresin have championed the need for “values-laden advocacy fused with holistic design thinking” with the aim of facilitating greater knowledge of our natural and built environments and how they can be transformed by design.
Professor of graphic design at the University of Melbourne and visiting professor at Zokei University in Tokyo, John Warwicker won the RDI award for his work in the field of new media design. Lloyd said Warwicker “never stopped”, adding that his work in media, performance, business and art practices is “progressive, exploratory and innovative”. Warwicker co-founded the multidisciplinary design collective Tomato and received the TTDC Special Award for curating and designing the O tomato Parco exhibition in Tokyo, which celebrated Tomato’s 25th anniversary in 2016.
Lloyd also announced that Charlie Paton, who has been RDI since 2012 for his work in engineering design, will replace him at the faculty masters. Paton is best known for inventing the seawater greenhouse, which combines seawater and sunlight to generate ideal growing conditions for crops in hot, dry environments.