Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have won this year’s Panerai London Design Medal, considered one of the UK’s highest accolades given to a designer. In its ninth year, the award celebrates an individual (or in this case, a duo) who has made an important contribution to design and London, with previous winners including Marc Newson, Thomas Heatherwick and Ron Arad. At the press conference on Tuesday 16 September, Erwan Bouroullec said: “We were lucky to start our careers early – I was 20, Ronan was 25 – so we got experience in proposing and learning. We made our first products when we didn’t really know what design meant; they were innocent, but had a strong DNA, and we try to keep that now with a small studio of only eight (people).”
Richard Rogers has been honoured with the Coutts Lifetime Achievement Award. Ben Evans, director of the London Design Festival, said the architect had not only significantly influenced the architecture of London but how we think about cities. Fittingly, the press conference and awards dinner were held in the newly completed Leadenhall Building, designed Rogers’ practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
Since its launch, the London Design Medal has grown to encompass four awards. The Perrier-Jouët Design Entrepreneur Medal was given to Nicolas Roope, founder of Antirom, Poke, Hulger, Plumen and The Lovie Awards. On his award, he commented, “The age of the entrepreneur is upon us because large corporations aren’t responding quickly enough. I see design as a tool to manage and navigate through change.”
Finally, the Swarovski Emerging Talent Medal was awarded to Roland Lamb, founder of ROLI and inventor of the Seaboard, a musical instrument that re-imagines the keyboard as a sensitive, soft, three-dimensional surface that enables intuitive control of sound. At the press conference, Lamb spoke about how he finished his philosophy degree at Harvard six years ago, applied to the RCA, but was rejected. “Luckily Ron Arad picked me out of the reject pile,” he joked. Now, his Haggerston-based company employs 50 people, and is exploring new applications of the innovative technology in the medical and automotive industries.