Department 21 a student-led interdisciplinary department at the Royal College of Art
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Welcome to the archive-website of Department 21 (2010-2011). Below you can see all the activities that have been organised while the department was up and running. Use the right-hand side menu to read up on the project, its motivations and background.

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.