The Royal College of Art: discover a factory of world-leading design ideas

Graduates from the world-leading Royal College of Art are showcasing their talents, and the shows open this week...
The Royal College of Art was last month confirmed as the world’s leading art and design university in the 2015 QS World University Rankings, beating the renowned Cambridge-MIT Institute and the Rhode Island School of Design to the coveted position.
For anyone wanting to know about what is happening in design, the RCA’s graduate shows, which open this week, are the place to start. Visitors can commission graduates to make items, buy their products — or simply admire their work. Some give their prices here, while others will be available at the shows.
The Design Products department encourages wide-ranging creativity. One engaging example is Robert Featherstone McIntyre and Thorwald ter Kulve’s Canopy Stair, a modular system of “step units” that can be strapped to a tree to form a spiralling staircase around it, without damaging the tree.
Quick to put up and dismantle, it enables you to access your inner child by climbing the stairs to the tree tops in your back garden. The pair have been asked to put up a Canopy Stair in Hampstead Heath this September.
The design process of many young designers is firmly rooted in experimentation with materials. This year, Seongil Choi, from South Korea, and Germany’s Fabio Hendry have looked at recycling waste material from 3D printing.
This is the process that futurologists predict will change the nature of manufacture, but to date there has been no satisfactory way of recycling the waste. The pair have come up with a new process that allows them to make a range of intriguing stools, from £400, but also a way of using the material to radically reduce the cost of underfloor heating.
Bold: Miranda Hicks creates horticultural prints from £80 a metre

Rami Santala looks at the problem of generation rent, coming up with the clever, easily assembled metal Thoreau Chair, with changeable upholstery that can be transformed to match a new interior. The chair, which can be used both inside and out, is available to commission, along with his Digital Nomad, a clever folding screen that provides privacy.
Miska Kuntsi’s solution to a tiny home office space includes folding wall desks and bar stools that double as ladders.
In textiles this year the trend is big, bright and beautiful, with students’ travels influencing their designs. Miranda Hicks creates large horticultural prints from £80 per metre, based on her experiences in Israel.

The trend to collaborate and for big prints is epitomised by Carys Briggs’s abstracted nudes in a range of sepias, browns, oranges and cream prints reproduced on textile, rugs and ply furniture.
  • The RCA’s show opens on June 25 and runs until July 5 (noon to 6pm daily, closed July 3) at its two campuses. Show Kensington is at the RCA in Kensington Gore, SW7. Show Battersea is at the RCA, 15-25 Howie Street, SW11. Visit for details.

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