RSA1.jpg Alan Fletcher RDI.

The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce is more commonly known as the RSA. Its mission, according to its 1754 founding charter, was to 'embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufacturers and extend our commerce'. Today, the RSA is 'an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today's social challenges'.

Aimed primarily at RSA fellows and supporters, its annual reports are also sent to important opinion-formers. As a self-supporting charity, its reports must avoid extravagant production costs and concentrate on a straightforward but elegant presentation of activities. With such a narrow brief, it is a challenge to reflect the gravitas and spirit of this august institution.

Taking our lead from the RSA's mission, Atelier searched for an 'enlightened', 'innovative', and 'practical' approach. We turned to the design heritage of the RSA. More than 65 years ago its Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) was founded. The RDI membership is a prestigious 'Who's Who' of leading designers in all disciplines, including graphic design.

For the 2001 RSA Annual Report, Atelier approached RDI members and asked them to illustrate the subject titles. We didn't know what the designers were going to produce and we had to design the annual review around their interpretations. Each contribution was signed — making this RSA annual report something of a collector's item.

RSA2.jpg Pierre Mendell RDI.

RSA3.jpg Derek Birdsall RDI.

RSA4.jpg Alan Kitching RDI.


A few of the RDIs were former mentors, while the others we selected were designers whom we had always admired — so for us, this project was quite a treat. Here, our former mentor John McConnell RDI shows off his love of exuberant typefaces.


For the 2000 RSA Annual Report, Atelier studied the RDI Faculty listing and noticed that a number of RDI members were responsible for creating some of the great pioneering typefaces of the 20th century: Eric Gill RDI (Gill Sans and Perpetua), Jan Tschichold RDI (Architype Tschichold), Herbert Bayer RDI (Architype Bayer) and Berthold Wolpe RDI (Albertus). The 2000 annual review became an homage to the RDIs who have contributed to the ongoing improvements in typeface legibility. Each spread was a heady blend of fonts not normally used together — but it seemed very apt to reunite some past RDIs in print again.

RSA-2000-2.jpg Berthold Wolpe RDI. Typeface: Albertus.

RSA-2000-3.jpg Eric Gill RDI. Typeface: Perpetua.