RCA School of Materials Highlights

RCA School of Materials Highlights

RCA’s School of Materials fuses together tradition with new technologies to challenge material and making, pushing them beyond their limits to create novel outcomes. Many of the projects touch upon critical issues that are relevant in the modern age from the preservation of heritage to the future of digital privacy. Whilst others examine materiality combined with technology to fashion unusual materials and surface applications. Here are our top picks:


Subliminal Materiality

Ahryun Lee’s Curious Specimen collection is driven by materiality, investigating the surface qualities of slips and glazes to fashion a sensuous assemblage of metamorphic sculptures. Lee invites the viewers into her imaginary world, using ceramics as her medium to bring these fictitious specimens to life. Taking the viewer on a voyage into her subconscious mind.

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Shifting Geology

Shifting Sands is a collection inspired by the geological landscape of Israeli. Portnoy spent her childhood playing on the plains of the desert, filling old glass bottles with layers of coloured sand, an area that is now a reservation site due to its archeological importance. The collection examines the origins of glass and pays homage to her homeland. Portnoy fuses layers of glass powder to mimic sand dunes, combining futuristic inspired elements with organic forms.

Image Credit: Matan Ashkenazy


Labyrinth Marquetry

Architecture and geometry is a repeated source of inspiration for many designers but graduate Grace Gallagher has taken this theme a step further.  Gallagher’s collection is a range of interior surfaces and products that combine both handmade processes with modern manufacturing techniques. Her complex, mathematical laser-cut wooden pieces are suggestive of the traditional inlaid marquetry technique, which gives her work a high-end luxe feel with a contemporary style.


T.W.O in One

Solving global sustainability issues is classified as one of the top ‘wicked problems’ worldwide, a problem that is either difficult or impossible to solve. It is always gratifying to see students undertake such critical issues. Traditionally trained as a weaver, Jacqueline Lefferts has first hand experience of the textile and fashion industry. Second to oil, fashion and textiles is one of the most unsustainable industry in the world. Each stage of a garment’s life threatens our planet and its resources. In recognition of this, Lefferts sets out to tackle this problem. Her graduate collection focuses on the manufacturing processes, both the construction of fabric and garment. She proposes that by combining two processes to create one complete garment not only reduces material waste but also simplifies the manufacturing process. The outcome of the project, presents a striking collection of constructed, over-sized, pleated garments comparable to Japanese fashion design Issey Miyake. The project is still in its infancy and has a long way to go but Lefferts strongly believes that ‘the future of sustainability will be in the simplification of objects and processes to reduce material waste’. 



Privacy is Dead

Gemma Charlotte Brown’s project ‘Materials, Motion and the Body’ presents an intriguing dystopian scenario, proposing that gait tracking becomes the primary mode of national surveillance. In the future, technology is seamlessly embedded into our clothing to facilitate constant recognition. Privacy no longer exists as data is continuously collected from our bodies to provide security. In response to this, Brown presents a collection of materials design to rebel against the organisation, by blurring the parameter of the body to disrupt and displace the system.