Makerversity and Royal Designers for Industry launch new professional design network

By Charlotte Gilks

Makerversity is delighted to announce the launch of RDIs x Makerversity Professional Design Network. The aim of the network is to provide Makerversity members and alumni with the opportunity to meet the UK’s design icons, discuss their practice and draw expert advice from the world’s leading designers. The RDIs in turn are excited to share their experiences and understand more from Makerversity members whose practice is defining the future of design. It is hoped that this spirit of exchange and dialogue may result in some powerful new collaborations.

The title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) is awarded annually by the Royal Society of Arts to designers of all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society.’ The RDI is the highest accolade for designers in the UK; only 200 designers can hold the title and non-UK designers may receive the honorary title Hon RDI.

The Royal Designers are responsible for defining the world around us, enriching our cultural heritage, driving innovation, inspiring creativity in others and improving our quality of life. They have created the Routemaster bus, iPhone, the jet engine, world wide web and Harry Potter film sets, among thousands of other things. Recipients of the honour have included designers as diverse as Jonathan Ive, Vivienne Westwood and Richard Rogers to Thomas Heatherwick and Tim Berners-Lee.

The RDIs x Makerversity Professional Design Network launches, following 6 months of prototyping, which has already seen a number of exciting projects come to fruition. Robin Levien, RDI and ceramics designer explains;

“A design ‘speed dating’ event was held at Makerversity between the Royal Designers for Industry and Makerversity members back in June 2019, which was the beginning of a fascinating project. I met Mick Geerits and Duncan Carter of Abnormal Design, who at the time were on the Makers with a Mission programme. I was intrigued by their work and invited them to my studio. I suggested that they work with me and the team at Studio Levien on ceramic Cache Pots for Almas in Portugal”.

Abnormal Design and Studio Levien discuss their collaboration with Almas

“I pitched the idea of Cache Pots with relief surfaces created by ‘Generative Modelling’ to Ricardo Abrantes at Almas, who immediately saw the potential and said yes. Deals were made and the project got underway. Ricardo flew in for a presentation on 22nd January and was very pleased with the designs. Printed models of the designs will be presented to Almas customers at the International Table Top Show, Ambiente, in Frankfurt in early February. A selection of the designs will be developed for launch later this year. I’m really looking forward to more networking to come with exciting collaborations in store and am delighted that incoming master of the RDIs, Mark Major and my RDI colleagues are so energised about being connected to Makerversity members.”

Makerversity members and alumni are encouraged to apply to be connected with a Royal Designer. There will be a call for applications every 3 months. Applicants should e-mail, including their name, company name, area of practice, CV and what they would like to get out of the amazing opportunity to have a dialogue with some of the world’s design leaders. Successful applicants will then be matched with a Royal Designer.

In addition, there will be other events and collaborations throughout the year so watch this space. It is hoped that the Network will evolve based on member and RDI feedback. We are excited to get started. 

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Charlotte Gilks
Posted By Charlotte Gilks