As the 2017 London Design Festival draws near, so too does the British Land Celebration of Design Awards. Over its past ten editions, London Design Medals have been awarded to figures such as Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, Sir Paul Smith and Ron Arad, among others.
Now in its 11th year, the awards honour exceptional creativity and innovation in different disciplines, celebrating the past, present and future of design. During a ceremony held at the Gladstone Library of the National Liberal Club later this month, set designer Es Devlin will be awarded the Panerai London Design Medal – an accolade bestowed upon an individual who has demonstrated constant design excellence (more in the October 2017 issue of Wallpaper*, out on 15 September). Additionally, PriestmanGoode founding director Paul Priestman will receive the Design Innovation Medal, an award celebrating merit in entrepreneurship, both on a local and international scale.
This year’s Emerging Talent Medal goes to Julian Melchiorri, an RCA and Imperial College graduate and the first Engineer in Residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum, while the Lifetime Achievement Medal honours British typographer and graphic designer Margaret Calvert, whose signage system for Britain’s roads is still very much relevant today.
The London Design Medal
The awards traditionally offers a panoramic view of the state of design in London and its constant power of reinvention, and this year is no different. Calvert’s career trajectory, for instance, and her client list (ranging from the NHS to the British Rail and British Airport Authority, up until the more recent redesign of the UK government’s website), demonstrate how good design and typography can be a guiding force at the service of the community.
Melchiorri, meanwhile, proposes environmentally-friendly industrial solutions. His ‘Silk Leaf’ project, which attracted the jury’s attention, springs from the designer’s interest in biology and natural processes, creating an artificial object which aims to replicate nature’s efficiency at the service of man-made industries. And the breadth of Paul Priestman’s work, ranging from airplanes to hotel, is another fitting example of how design can reach and affect people globally.
For the first time this year, the medals will be accompanied an exhibition of works by all four winners – complete with an exhibition design by Devlin – hosted at the V&A throughout the duration of the London Design Festival. Devlin’s work will also be showcased in a separate presentation, displaying her set design for Bizet’s Carmen, staged on the lake of Bregenz, Austria, this past summer.