1754 - ?

Royal Society of Arts was founded in London's Covent Garden in 1754 to encourage excellence in the arts, commerce, and manufacturing. For over 250 years, experts in these fields have presented innovative ideas and fostered debate amongst their peers and interested parties, usually Fellows of the Society. The Society's Medals recognise outstanding achievements with three important awards, the first is the Albert Medal named after Prince Albert, the Society's long serving President, originally awarded to individuals who achieved distinction in the promotion of the arts, commerce, or manufacturing and today is recognises people who have achieved major forms of social innovation. Winners include Rowland Hill, the inventor of the postage stamp, Hugh Casson, architect, painter and President of the RA, musician Yehudi Menuhin and Tim Berners-Lee the inventor of the World Wide Web. The second is the Benjamin Franklin Medal, awarded to individuals or to groups and organisations who foster and encourage Anglo-American relationships, being awarded in alternate years to U.K. and then U.S. citizens. The third, the Bicentenary Medal, established in 1954 to commemorate the founding of the Society was originally awarded to an individual who was influential in the promotion of innovative art and design in British Industry, recipients include Robin Darwin painter and Principal of the RCA, William Coldstream, painter and Principal of the Slade School and designer and entrepreneur Terence Conran. Another important award given by the Society which commenced in 1936 is the ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) which is awarded annually to designers of all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society.