London Design Festival 2011 Medal Winners

Each year, London Design Festival recognises the contribution made by leading design figures to London and the industry. In 2011, two London Design Medals were awarded:

The London Design Medal: the highest accolade bestowed upon an individual who has distinguished themselves within the industry and demonstrated consistent design excellence.

Lifetime Achievement Medal: honours a significant and fundamental contribution to the design industry over the course of a career.

London Design Medal: Ron Arad

Supported by Panerai

Ron Arad is an Israeli industrial designer, artist, and architect. Born in Tel Aviv in 1951, Arad initially co-founded design and production studio, One Off, in 1981 alongside Caroline Thorman. In 1989, he solely founded Arad Associates architecture and design practice and in 2008, Ron Arad Architects was established alongside Ron Arad Associates. 

Arad’s constant experimentation with materials such as steel, aluminium or polyamide, and his radical reconception of the form and structure of furniture has put him at the forefront of contemporary design and architecture.

Alongside his limited edition studio work, Arad designs for many leading international companies including Kartell, Vitra, Moroso, Fiam, Driade, Alessi, Cappellini, Cassina, WMF and Magis, among many others. Ron Arad has designed a number of public art pieces, like the Vortext in Seoul, Korea, and the Kesher Sculpture at Tel Aviv University.

Lifetime Achievement Medal: Vidal Sassoon

London-born hairdressing legend Vidal Sassoon was honoured with London Design Festival's first ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Vidal Sassoon CBE was a British-American hairstylist, businessman, and philanthropist. He was noted for popularising a simple, close-cut geometric hair style called the Bob cut, worn by famous fashion designers like Mary Quant and film stars such as Mia Farrow, Goldie Hawn, Cameron Diaz, Nastassja Kinski and Helen Mirren.

From a background of poverty, with seven years of his childhood spent in an orphanage, Sassoon quit school at the age of 14 with dreams of becoming a footballer. After working various jobs in London during World War II, he eventually became an apprentice hairdresser at the suggestion of his mother. After developing a reputation for his innovative cuts, he moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s, where he opened the first chain of worldwide hairstyling salons, complemented by a line of hair products. He also co-founded Paul Mitchell Systems with Paul Mitchell, one of his former students. Mitchell said that Sassoon was "the most famous hairstylist in the history of the world."

He sold his business interests in the early 1980s to devote himself to philanthropy. In 2009, Sassoon was appointed CBE by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Vidal Sassoon: The Movie, a documentary film about his life, was released in 2010. Sassoon sadly passed away on 9th May 2012, shortly after receiving his medal, after a battle with leukaemia.