Collaboration between leading designers and students

Inspiring and enhancing critical thinking

Opportunities for students to spend time with some of the world’s leading designers who have been awarded the Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) status by the RSA for sustained excellence and significant benefit to society.

Royal Designers can inspire and enrich student experience, enhance critical thinking and practical skillsets, encourage problem-solving, and boost confidence in students’ capabilities. We’ve written about these inspiring projects to encourage more of them and demonstrate the breadth of projects that have taken place.

RDIs and RSA Academies collaborate in a number of ways:

1) Visits to inspire

RDIs can give a talk about their work, sharing how they found their design path and career, presenting and discussing their portfolios, suggesting pathways to students and preparing them for further experience in education and industry.

2) Setting a project

This can be done by an RDI in person at school or online, providing feedback or judging a final project outcome.  Prizes provided may be a visit to a work place or job shadowing.

3) Mentoring

Advising and supporting students on an existing school project by providing a ‘crit’ either individually or in discussion groups.   The RDI could support and work with students, helping with ideas, development and outcomes.  Schools will need to provide a link to a teacher to explain the assessment parameters e.g. if this is an extended project for A-Level or IB.

4) Opportunities

Work place experience or shadowing, short to long term opportunities for students at different levels to experience an RDI’s design field and get connected with the professional design industry.

What is an RDI?

Recognising the valuable contribution that designers could make to the country’s prosperity and our quality of life, the RSA introduced the title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) in 1936.  This new honour was established to promote the important contribution of design in manufacturing and industry, and to encourage and reward outstanding practitioners.

Today the RDI remains the highest accolade for designers in the UK and is conferred to those who have shown “sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society”.

Candidates are nominated by current Royal Designers and RSA Fellows and only 200 designers may hold the RDI title at any time.  Outside the UK, a limited number of designers are given the award of Honorary Royal Designer for Industry (Hon RDI).

The Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry is the association of RDI members who are a prestigious ‘Who’s Who’ of leading designers of all disciplines including engineering, graphics and interaction, product and furniture, fashion and textiles, and theatre and film design.

The Royal Designers share their skills and experience with the RSA; working with RSA staff in the Action and Research Centre, advising RSA Fellows with their projects, as well as running workshops with the RSA Family of Academies.

The Royal Designers have recently run a new summer school programme with the RSA that involved designers working with people from different backgrounds to solve a challenging, abstract problem.

So who are the Royal Designers?

They are responsible for designing the worldwide web, the iPod, the Rolls-Royce jet engine, the Harry Potter film sets and the miniskirt among other things.  Sir Terence Conran was awarded for his lifetime’s work in using good design to improve the quality of life of many people. Graphic designer Margaret Calvert was awarded the RDI for designing the UK’s highway signage – one of the most prominent typographic elements of the British landscape.  Environmental engineer Patrick Bellew was awarded for his leadership in the field of eco-generation and his contribution to the environmental performance of buildings.

Read more about our amazing collaborations so far.

Schools involved:

Holyhead School

RSA Academy

Ipsley CE RSA Academy

Arrow Vale RSA Academy

Whitley Academy

Project details:

Date Started September 2012
Date Finished on going
Project Funder RSA Academies and individual school support