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Lifetime Achievement Medal Winner 2020 Ken Garland

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


Ken Garland is a British graphic designer, photographer, writer and notably, educator. He has made a significant contribution to the development of graphic design since the mid-twentieth century and formed the prolific design studio Ken Garland & Associates in 1962 (until 2009) in Camden, London, where he continues to live and work. 


Ken Garland & Associates included a small rotating group of designers over its 47-year period including Robert Chapman, Ray Carpenter, Trilokesh Mukherjee, Gill Scott, Patrick Gould, John O’Neil, Norman Moore, Frank Hart, Daria Gan, Colin Bailey, Peter Cole, Ian Moore, Paul Cleal, Richard Marston and Anna Carson. They worked with clients such as Galt Toys, Dancer & Hearne, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Barbour Index and Keniston Housing Association. 


Prior to forming the studio, Garland worked with editor Michael Farr at Design magazine, where he held the position of art editor from 1956 to 1962. The state-funded publication by the Council for Industrial Design formed the basis for Garland’s future work – human-centred, elegantly simple and rigorously conceived. Prior to this, Ken Garland studied design at London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts and upon graduation in 1954, undertook an apprenticeship with the trade magazine Furnishings. 


Garland has been teaching ever since he left school himself, at the Central School London, The University of Reading, The Royal College of Art and the University of Brighton. He has written five books about design, contributed to numerous graphic design and visual culture publications, and published many influential articles, perhaps most notably, the ‘First Things First’ manifesto in 1964 that advocated ‘in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication’. The manifesto was signed by Ken Garland’s graphic design colleagues, friends and former lecturers such as Edward Wright, Anthony Froshaug, Robin Fior and Ken Briggs. Its style encouraged commercial artists to share their opinions and experiences to inspire others in the design industry. In 1999, the manifesto was re-signed by 23 prominent graphic designers and critics - both manifestos have been widely written and spoken about, as well as republished, throughout the graphic design community. 


In 2008, Garland and his wife, artist Wanda Garland, founded Pudkin Books, a publishing venture issuing a series of picture books under the general heading ‘a close look at...’ in A6 folded fore-edge format. 


Ken Garland says, “I am delighted to be chosen as the recipient of one of the London Design Medals. At my age (91) I had thought I was a forgotten person – but no, someone still remembers me! As to achievement: all my associates and I did for 50-odd years was to have a lot of fun at other people’s expense. We were so lucky!”