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School of Arts & Humanities

V&A/RCA History of Design


History is alive, and it matters. If you weren’t aware of this a few months ago, or you’d forgotten, you must know it, now.

Its matter matters, too. Statues, for example, are never only invisible pigeon roosts – the scenery for busy lives – but assertions of certain views and narratives of the past over other, alternative histories. Museum collections, too, by another name, are the possessions of others, in the past and present. Whether physical or dematerialised, structures that privilege some and discriminate against others are historical artefacts in their own right: designed by some, made and maintained by many, experienced by all.

V&A/RCA History of Design students are acutely aware that history matters, and that matter discriminates. Our 2019 graduates held their final show in February 2020. The group project presented here – created for RCA2020 by current students –  is a communal attempt to tease apart the ways in which digital systems replicate, distribute and intensify existing inequalities, and how intersecting with these online environments is inflected differently depending on one’s identity and lived experience.

One key proposition is that environments are never neutral. Another is that seeing and acting with an historical imagination – especially one which attends to how designed environments and their representation and replication impact experience – is a key way to begin to engage, collaboratively, creatively and from many perspectives, with making change.

V&A/RCA History of Design MA 2020 graduates, Design & Material Culture Pathway:

Alice Fine, Alice Naylor, Charlotte Lapsa-Brown, Claire Salmon, Emily Hartless, Fei Wu, Gregor Wittrick, Jessica Chow, Jie Qiu, Leoma Allawi, Mark Hodge, Matthew Benjamin, Nia Murphy, Olga Dritsopoulou, Penny Topsom, Petra Seitz, Qianyao Wang, Rhiannon White, Sofia Birman, Wanda D’Onofrio, Xueqing Xi, Yiling Zhang

V&A/RCA History of Design MA 2020 graduates, Performance Pathway:

Chloe Vollenweider, Ellye Van Grieken, Ruth Connolly

V&A/RCA History of Design MA 2020 graduates, Photography Pathway:

Danping Jin, Jorja Hall

Twitter: @HistoryofDesign
Study History of Design at the RCA:

Digital Discomforts

V&A/RCA History of Design
As we adjust to life under new rules, like everyone else, we've had to radically alter our approach to studying and working.
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I Graduated From My Bedroom

Curated by Victor Wang

Slivers and Remnants

Curated by Esther Leslie
AccessAccessibilityAlgorithmArchiveCoronavirusCovid-19DatingDating AppsDecoloniseDecolonisingDesignDigitalDigital DiscomfortsDigital InfrastructureDisabilityFundingGenderHistoriesLibrariesLockdownMinorityNon-EnglishOnline CommunicationPublic SpaceRaceRacismRemote WorkingSurveillance And PrivacyVoice
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The V&A/RCA History of Design MA and PhD are offered jointly by the Royal College of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance. Students on the MA work closely with collections and curatorial expertise within the V&A, and as part of the creative community of the RCA.
In 2019-20, scholarships, prizes and support were offered by the V&A Members Fund; the Anthony Gardner Travel Fund; the Joan Jordan Bequest Scholarship; Clive and Jane Wainwright for the Clive Wainwright Memorial Essay Prize; the estate of Gillian Naylor for the Gillian Naylor Essay Prize in memory of Tom Naylor; the RCA Continuing Education Fund and the estate of Dr. Sylvia Lennie England. We express our gratitude for this support to students, here.
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