Department 21 | An experimental interdisciplinary workspace at the Royal College of Art
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Stephen Knott on D21

Stephen Knott, one of the early participants of D21, wrote a beautiful text about Department 21, which was published on the book Collaboration through Craft, edited by Amanda Ravetz, Alice Kettle and Helen Felcey. Thank you Stephen!


D21 on Abitare

A text by D21 & Pippa Koszerek was included in the contribution “ALPHABETALOG – An anti-manifesto” by the Design Academy Eindhoven for the February issue of Abitare.


The Power of ‘Besottedness’: Art School and the Future


On the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the RCA and the exhibition “A Prefect Place to Grow”, a book was published which contains the essay The Power of ‘Besottedness’: Art School and the Future by Sarah Teasley, in which she also reflects on D21.

Departed 21

Disassembly Point

Off to
New shores
New places
New adventures

What it means to depart

We just had an interesting meeting with Ian Sharman, MA student at the University of Edinburgh. But before showing him around the RCA, we had to find a way into the building!

We found ourselves talking about what it means to depart, inspired by this text on the closure of the Bauhaus, which he brought as part of his research project.

End of the Bauhaus Extract

Reconsidering the Local and the Global

Triggered by both the oft-essentialised cultural or national identity as basis of design and the lack of acknowledging local specificities in the name of global design, this panel seeks to uncover the complexities and tensions of the local and global that shape how design relates to issues such as identity, values and usage through the lens of RCA alumni and student projects.

With Mohammed Daud (Innovation Design Engineering ’11), Prapat Jiwarangsan (Ceramics & Glass ’11), Jasleen Kaur (Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery ’10), Wenjin Yao (PhD Innovation Design Engineering ’12) and chaired by Shirley Surya (History of Design ‘11)



Exploring the Gap between Promise and Performance in Technical Drawings

This workshop and discussion aims to raise questions about the stories that technical drawings tell about processes of design, distribution of agency, the abbreviatory and the euphoric provision of detail, and expectations. The 1st hour provides an informal space to engage with some activities that aim to raise awareness of the work of technical drawings. These activities including creative material ways of representing architecture, and creative writing. The 2nd hour uses the results of the activities to inform and shape a discussion.

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Lighting Rig, intervention by Sam Ely & Lynn Harris

Lighting Rig is an amateur assemblage of lighting components that casts light by by Sam Ely & Lynn Harris. It was used during all the events of Wednesday 29th June, chaging location and colours according to the type of events and settings.

“The inner contradiction of the concept of function-led action or communication sculpture, the contradiction of work and event cannot be resolved in practice; at best viewers may perceive it in their imaginations at the same time.” Franz West

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Summer Cinema

Hosting performance pieces & moving image by filmakers Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Jonathan Caouette & RCA Students.

Designing the Design Process

With the architect’s awareness of design being increasingly contingent on complex socio-economic-political factors, this panel considers three pedagogical approaches to architectural intervention that go beyond the level of the end-product, into designing the process of getting to the end and even its afterlife. While questioning its intention of exerting a greater, yet seemingly elusive, control on the part of the designer, and feasibility in the context of existing system of architectural commissions, the discussion also seeks to discover and affirm the potential of such alternative models of engagement in changing the role of the designer, and its implication on design education.

With Carlos Villanueva Brandt (Diploma 10 Unit Master, Architectural Association), Theo Lorenz (Tutor and Director of AAIS Interprofessional Studio, Architectural Association) & Roberto Bottazzi (Tutor, Department of Architecture, Royal College of Art), chaired by Shirley Surya (History of Design ’11, Royal College of Art).

On archives: The score, the performing artist and the public documentation.

D21 was hosting a dialogue between Cecilia Wee (writer & curator) and Emilie Parendeau (curator & performer), Tuesday 28th June.

‘A notable difference between painting and music is that the composer has finished his work when he wrote the score, even if the performances are the end products, while the painter must complete the picture.’ Nelson Goodman

Because of the heavy rain outside, this discussion was hosted by T.O.C. an ephemeral reading-room installed for the duration of the show.

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ART- mAP Performance, Public Soul Architecture

Public Soul Architecture (Adolfo Guevara, Nicole Milai Ratcliffe & Sica) came from Manchester, for an afternoon performance, ART- mAP Performance, on Monday 27th June.

Public Soul Architecture is a project currently in progress, it is the aim of this project to research the parallel activities in relation to performance, WHAT IS CRUCIAL TO THE ‘EVENT’ identifying roles of the social as an intrinsic quality in the performable act itself, as a medium of correlating the public space with the architecture of site + situation.

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Environment In D, Music by David Morris

On Sunday 26th June, the hottest day of June, we host David Morris for an afternoon session of Public Music, while exotic refreshments where served by Café Château.

D21 Guided Tours

The Secret Orientation
25th, 26th and 29th June
Guided tour
Join our guides for an unofficial tour of the RCA show’s backstage.
Organised by Sonya Derman & Min Huh

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