The title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) is awarded annually by the RSA to designers of all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society.’
The RDI is the highest accolade for designers in the UK; only 200 designers can hold the title and non-UK designers may receive the honorary title Hon RDI.
The ‘Royal Designers’ are responsible for designing the world around us, enriching our cultural heritage, driving innovation, inspiring creativity in others and improving our quality of life. The jet engine, Routemaster bus, iPhone, and Harry Potter film sets, among thousands of other things, have been created by them. Since it was introduced, recipients of the honour have included designers as diverse as Eric Gill, Barnes Wallis, Lucienne Day, Jonathan Ive, Richard Rogers, and Vivienne Westwood.
The RSA established the RDI in 1936 to give recognition to outstanding designers and to promote the important contribution of design in manufacturing and industry. The honour was introduced when design was widely undervalued and misunderstood, both as a profession and as a tool to boost economic and social progress.
The Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry was formed in 1938 as the association of RDI members. New appointments are recommended to the RSA by the current RDI membership who represent an expanding and evolving design profession including; engineering, graphics, interaction, product, furniture, fashion, interiors, landscape, and urban design.