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Professor Helen Storey MBE announced as Royal Designer for Industry

Rubbish Bag Ball Skirt Second Life Collection 1990, Photograph Platon
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Published date
26 November 2014

Professor of Fashion and Science at LCF and award winning designer and artist Helen Storey, has been announced as RSA’s new Royal Designer for Industry. This amazing achievement is regarded as the highest honour a designer can receive in the UK!

Helen was selected for pushing new boundaries in garment and fabric design and making challenging scientific concepts accessible to the public.

Helen has made a huge impact, not only in her field of work, but on a broad range of people throughout her long and substantial career, with Frances Corner OBE, LCF’s Head of College, describing her as:

“A true visionary, Helen’s work has questioned, challenged and inspired for over three decades and I am absolutely delighted that she is to receive this fitting recognition of her outstanding contribution to design and society.  As Professor of Fashion and Science at London College of Fashion, Helen’s collaborative, forward-thinking and interdisciplinary way of working has led to pioneering work. She has successfully brought together the worlds of art and science, producing hybrid projects and products that have broken new and award-winning ground. Helen consistently challenges convention, bringing fresh insight and communicating imaginatively to help people think differently and improve lives. She is an inspiration to the staff and students at the University of the Arts London and I have no doubt that she will continue to work tirelessly towards creating a better world.  It is a privilege to work with her and we are immensely proud that she is to be honoured with this prestigious award.”

Caryn Franklin MBE, Fashion Commentator and friend, added:

“Helen’s ability to deconstruct the essence of fashion and work with its energy as a force for intellectual and creative evolution is an inspiration to all of us in the field of clothing. As she says: ‘Clothes are undeniably full of meaning, from the minute you part with your money for them to how you take care of them, to who you choose to wear them with, to how long you keep them and what experiences they thereafter hold for you.’ I love engaging with her and enjoying her special skill of drawing out the best in us all.”

The distinction Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) was established by the RSA in 1936 and is awarded annually to designers of all disciplines who have achieved sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society. There are now 146 RDIs, and members include the likes of Terence Conran, Jonathan Ive, James Dyson, Vivienne Westwood, and Thomas Heatherwick.

Malcolm Garrett RDI, Master of the Faculty of Royal Designers at RSA, said:

“I’ve worked with Helen for 15 years, having collaborated with her on an interactive component for the ground-breaking ‘Mental’ exhibition at the ICA in 2001. It is rare to find such a truly inspirational person who works in genuinely collaborative ways with a wide spectrum of artists and scientists, always posing new questions about what is possible creatively and intellectually. She is an absolute dream to work with. Tirelessly exploring ideas, she is a wonderfully generous and supportive person, and surrounds herself with similarly minded people to help create works that defy convention and yet are accessible to all.”

Fashion Designer Zandra Rhodes added:

“I am absolutely thrilled that the RSA are honouring Helen Storey – she is such an extremely talented and creative designer, who worked for my close friend David Sassoon… I completely support the honour of being named Royal Designer for Industry being bestowed upon her!”

Helen continues to be a passionate advocate for collaborative projects with scientists and others. She seeks to instigate new ideas and suggest solutions to global problems on the environment, the fashion industry and what it means to be human in a rapidly changing world. Her work is constantly in the public domain and she has been recognised through a clutch of awards including an MBE for ‘Services to Arts’ in 2010.

Helen said:

“For many years I have instinctively felt that our progress relies upon taking the right kinds of risks through purposeful collision and experimentation in between the disciplines. The aptitudes that designers need nowadays have had to change, in order for us to flourish and respond to our rapidly shifting world. My work has often been therefore, hard to categorise, my practice demands a hybrid response to what I feel the world is asking of us – so it has been an absolute joy to find that my work has been recognised by the Royal Society of Arts and all that it stands for, not just for me, but for everyone who follows their intuition, beyond trend and towards the betterment of us all.”

Professor Tony Ryan, OBE Pro Vice Chancellor of Pure Science at The University of Sheffield said:

“I’d like to congratulate Helen on her richly deserved award. Helen is inspirational for the questions she asks and her relentless pursuit of answers. She has an intuition that is far more analytical than most scientists’ logic. She certainly took me to places I couldn’t have imagined visiting on my own.”

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of the Arts London added:

“Helen’s visionary design thinking brilliantly illustrates how the very best creatives are finding radical new solutions for environmental challenges. It is great to see the importance of her ground-breaking work recognised at this level.”

But perhaps the most succinct quote of all comes from model, writer and broadcaster, Erin O’Connor:

“Wise. Woman. Warrior.”

What a wonderful way to sum up such a talented woman. A big congratulations to Helen on her achievement, we wish her all the best and look forward to inevitably seeing more amazing and innovative work from her in the future.