The Awards Ceremony for the 2016 Sir Misha Black Awards took place on Thursday 17 November at the Royal College of Art, London.
Introduction by the Chairman, Mary Mullin
“Welcome Dean Dale Harrow, Ms Calvert, Representatives of the Arts University Bournemouth, Professor Catherine McDermott, Mr. Oliver Black, son of Sir Misha and Mrs. Black, members of the Kinneir Family, distinguished guests, members of the Founding Bodies, Patrons, ladies and gentlemen, students of the RCA and many long standing friends of these Awards – Good Evening!
When Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, wrote to a friend about a visit to a spa town in the mountains of northern Tuscany, she said ‘we are up to our knees in Royal Highnesses’. Tonight she might have to describe the scene as ‘up to our waist in Royals’ – Royal Designers, Royal Engineers, Royal Academicians, Royal Colleges, Royal Students, representatives of KINGston University, Chancellors, Vice Chancellors and Professors’. All of you, Royal or Rebel are very Welcome to the Ceremony that celebrates the Sir Misha Black Awards and the 2016 Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education.
I’m Mary Mullin and on behalf of my colleagues on the Awards Committee: Professor Geoffrey Kirk, representing the Royal Academy of Engineering; Professor Sir Christopher Frayling representing the College of Medallists; Professor Malcolm Garrett, representing the RSA: Faculty of Royal Designers; Joe Kerr representing this distinguished institution, the Royal College of Art – from all of us… thank you for being here with us this evening.
My job is to tell you a little about Sir Misha Black and the Awards and to introduce the speakers.
Each and every Award Ceremony since the first, held in the (Royal) Buckingham Palace in 1978, (and organised by Geoffrey Adams who is here this evening) has its own special character. Tonight is no exception.
As political parties bicker and debate, and the western world contemplates, what was described in the prescient 1964 book by James Burnham, as ‘the Suicide of the West’, as governments rise and fall in public opinion on their attitude towards migrants, and as our multiple media sources fill our minds with images of people fleeing across seas and continents in search of a better life, it is salutary to pause and reflect for a brief moment on the early part of the 20th Century, when revolution, persecution, poverty and the hope of better prospects also saw great movements of people across Europe and across the Atlantic. If, before the start of World War One, in 1912, a brave young couple had not fled pre revolutionary Russia to work in London, bringing with them their two year old son Misha, we would not be gathered here this evening. In 1959 this, then 51 year old, child migrant, Misha, became the first Professor of Industrial Design at this Royal College of Art and as Sir Misha held the position here at the Royal College until his retirement in 1975.
It is fitting that we should gather in this building where he spent many years and inspired generations of students.
Quite a few in this audience would have known Sir Misha, worked with him or studied under him. I hope they will bear with me while I tell those of you, who may be attending this Award Ceremony for the first time, a little about him.
He was in the vanguard of those who encouraged collaboration in design education, by introducing subjects such as engineering and management studies into the industrial design course at the RCA. He established first links with Imperial College. These contacts and courses have developed into new and cutting edge programmes today. Sir Misha died in 1977. The organisations to which he had given so much met, and agreed, that the most fitting tribute to his life and work was to recognise the vital role of teachers of design by establishing The Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education.
In 1996 the Royal Academy of Engineering joined in the Awards in recognition of the pioneering work of Sir Misha in encouraging design studies in university engineering courses. A Medal was struck, an exact casting of which you will see in a few moments, and thus began the tradition which we are continuing tonight.
In 1963 Sir Misha was one of the first Vice Presidents elected to the newly formed International Council of Societies of Industrial Design which began a movement to bring together designers from all over the world at conferences and meetings where they could share ideas and learn from each other.
Misha Black truly believed in the sharing and exchange of knowledge, across continents, borders, peoples and classes. The universality and longevity of good design is a theme that links Misha Black with this evening’s awards. My committee has always been cognisant of Misha Black’s pioneering work in this international arena and we have had the privilege of acknowledging the dedication and services of design educators in countries which, in Sir Misha’s time, had either little knowledge of industrial and engineering design education and certainly only embryonic courses in these subjects. His image is on Medals which are now pride of place in the northern and southern hemispheres, in the United States, Chile, South Africa, India and in island nations as far apart as Japan and Ireland.
Of course, there are many Awards for outstanding design by engineers, designers and architects. However, as far as we are aware the Medal struck in Misha Black’s name is the only international Award for design educators and the only award of any kind promoted jointly and collaboratively by the most distinguished and venerable Royal and other design and engineering bodies in this country. It has been likened to the Nobel Prize for Design Education.”
38th Anniversary of the Awards
“So now to this the 38th year and the presentation of the 28th Medal (Medals have not been awarded every year but only when truly deserved). As we gather to honour Ms Margaret Calvert we recall past recipients of the Medal – the photographs of these distinguished design educators grace the wall of this theatre and in this way, they are very much part of our celebrations this evening. Collectively, they represent the highest achievement in design education in the 20th Century and for these early years of the 21st Century.”
“We are very glad to have with us Members of the College of Medallists, Professor Sir Christopher Frayling the 2003 Medallist and Professor Geoffrey Kirk, the 2004 Medallist. We welcome also Professor David Hamilton, the only Honorary Medallist.
We have had messages from Medallists in Chile, Mexico the United States as well as the United Kingdom, and from India Ashoke Chatterjee, the 1983 Medallist has written: “I will be there with you in spirit on November 17. Warmest congratulations to this year’s recipients, and to all of you for keeping this flame burning despite all the challenges of our times. The Awards remind us each year of Sir Misha’s advocacy of design as a value and as a service, articulated most visibly in markets but with a human significance that is fundamental and all-encompassing.
All messages received from previous Medallists join them in spirit with us here this evening in saluting their newest member, Ms Margaret Calvert. Many of them wanted to be here tonight but were prevented by either distance or frailty.”
Award for innovation in Design Education
“The Award for Innovation in Design Education was inaugurated in 1999 to: ‘recognise a person who, or a team which, has made an innovative move, clearly demonstrating that the education of designers has been measurably improved and the profile of design education raised’. This Award is made only when these demanding criteria are reached and is confined to the United Kingdom. This year for the first time, since the Award was instituted, the Committee has decided to confer two Awards. This decision reflects the quality and variety of the nominations received and, most significantly, the constantly evolving, innovating, developing, deepening and strengthening of design education, in its widest interpretation, in this country.
The Awards for Innovation this year go to the Arts University in Bournemouth and to Professor Catherine McDermott of Kingston University London.”
Previous Award Recipients
“We welcome previous Award Recipients: Lady Frances Sorrell, Dr. Paul Ewing, Professor Jane McCann, Professor Roger Coleman.”
“Before presenting the Awards for Innovation I have one special Award to make. This is to Professor James Randle who has served on this Awards Committee for a full twenty years from 1996 when the Royal Academy of Engineering first participated until 2016 when he stepped down.
Twenty years of travelling to meetings from his home in the heart of England – and the only member to fly his own plane to a meeting held in the Isle of Wight – giving us the benefit of his wisdom and advice and keeping us ‘up to speed’ on all matters relating to engineering design. His own distinguished career as an engineer was recognised when he was made a Royal Designer in 1994. I am delighted to announce that he has agreed to remain in close contact and has accepted the appointment of Special Adviser to the Committee. His acceptance has ensured that we shall keep the cogs of our committee wheels well oiled and the nuts and bolts of our work tightly in place.
He has already seen to this by engineering his succession. Professor Geoffrey Kirk has been appointed as the new Representative of the Royal Academy of Engineering on our Committee, he is also an RSA Royal Designer, a Misha Black Medallist and whereas his A380 airbus engines might be a little immodest for the transport needs of our Committee, all our future work is guaranteed to meet Rolls Royce standards!
Professor Randle we have a Certificate to present you on behalf of your Colleagues acknowledging and thanking you for your long service to these Awards and to mark your appointment as Special Adviser.”
Awards for Innovation in Design Education
“I now call on Professor Sir Christopher Frayling who represents the College of Medallists on our Committee to read the Citation for Professor Catherine McDermott.”
– Professor Frayling read the Citation followed by the presentation of the Award by Mary Mullin. –
“Professor McDermott, I invite you to come forward and receive the 2016 Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education.
I now call on Professor Malcolm Garrett representing the RSA: Royal Designers on our Committee to read the Citation for Arts University Bournemouth.”
– Professor Garrett read the Citation followed by the presentation of the Award by Mary Mullin. –
“Professor Stuart Bartholomew I invite you to step forward and accept on behalf of the Arts University Bournemouth, a 2016 Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education.”
1978 – 2016
“There is a serendipitous connection between tonight’s Medallist, and last year’s Medallist and Sir Misha. Margaret Calvert was born in South Africa as was Ravi Naidoo who was honoured last year. She came to England with her mother and sister as a teenager to continue her education and remained here. The first step on the road, which led to a long and successful career as a teacher and practitioner, was signposted when at Chelsea School of Art, Jock Kinneir, her teacher, introduced her to graphic design. He had just left Design Research Unit where he had been working alongside Misha Black on the Festival of Britain. The teacher, Jock, recognised the talented Margaret and invited her to work with him. And the rest, as you will hear, is history…
I now call on Joe Kerr, who represents this Royal College on our Committee, to read the Citation for Ms Calvert.”
– Joe Kerr read the Citation followed by the presentation of the Medal by Mary Mullin. –
“Margaret Calvert OBE, RDI, I invite you to step forward and accept the 2016 Sir Misha Black Medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education.
Ms. Calvert before you address the Audience may I just point out that you have now joined, and are a full member of our College of Medallists and your photograph on the wall records this!”
– Margaret Calvert gave the annual Medallist’s Address. –
“Thank you Ms. Calvert... I am sure that I speak for all of us here when I say how we have enjoyed learning more about your work and admire your continuing dedication to it. You work with young designers to hand on your knowledge and experience. It could be said that, in doing so you have provided directional signs for several generations of designers and brought them safely to destinations in happy careers. One is also tempted to say that you have conquered, as Chesterton put it, ‘The Rolling English Roads’ or ‘Made straight in the desert a highway’ …or ensured that we continually find our destination – if not our destiny! We wish you continued success. Thank you Margaret Calvert – 2016 Medallist.
Our first 2016 Award Recipient Professor McDermott, puts one in mind of the Roman philospher Marcus Martial who said ‘He lives doubly who also enjoys the past’. Thanks to Professor McDermott’s students, innumerable visitors to the Museums and Galleries throughout world, can now ‘live doubly’ and enjoy the work of past designers. The same could be said of the exhibitions in the Gallery and the Museum at AUB but the Campus as a whole lives up to what, Thomas Hardy the Dorset poet said ‘Ah, stirring times we live in’ as AUB continues to innovate courses and new ways of teaching, or as the same Hardy wrote in the ‘Woodlanders’…. ‘You was a good man and did good things’.
Tonight we salute all those who have, and who are continuing to, dedicate their lives to educating the future generation of designers and of whom we say ‘You are all good men and women and you do good things’. Good teachers are the ones who fan the flame of imagination and ambition in youth. This gives us all cause for hope in knowing the education of the designers, those who will continue to reshape our world, in ways as yet unimagined, is in safe hands. Thank you all design educators and good teachers everywhere.”
“This concludes the presentation for this evening. My thanks to everyone involved in organising this ceremony and to those who have taken part: to the Sir Misha Black Awards Committee for their dedication: to our administrator Adrianna Palazollo and all who have helped us prepare for this evening, to the Founding Bodies for their support, to our Patrons, Rolls Royce and Ideo, the Arup Foundation and the Education Trust of the Design and Industries Association. Particular thanks to the Rector, Pro Rector, Dean Harrow, and everyone at the Royal College of Art who provide a welcoming home for our Awards and a special thank you to the technical team in the theatre this evening.
Before inviting you all to join Ms Calvert, Professor McDermott and the Arts University Bournemouth team for a celebratory glass in the lobby area outside the theatre, I would like to thank the Bugatti Trust for their support. They are represented tonight by their present Chairman, son of the Founder of the Bugatti Museum (a nice link with Professor McDermott’s work), Mr. Hugh Conway and his wife, and Mr Barrie Price, who was Chairman of the Trust for 17 years. Bugatti drivers, like all drivers, benefit from the work of Margaret Calvert, our very sincere thanks to the Bugatti Trust: you have enabled us to make our Reception truly sparkling!”
Photograph copyright ©Misha Black Awards
The Awards Ceremony for the 2016 Sir Misha Black Awards took place on Thursday 17 November at the Royal College of Art, London.