Graduates of the world-famous arts and design college, Central Saint Martins have helped to shape the modern world. From winners of the coveted Turner Prize to joyous recipients of Oscars, the King’s Cross-based institution was born out of the arts and crafts movement and has developed the likes of Alexander McQueen, Pierce Brosnan, Joe Strummer, Stella McCartney, Jarvis Cocker and Marc Jacobs.
It even became synonymous with the lyrics to one of the defining musical moments of the 1990s, with Cocker referencing meeting a love interest at the institution in the song, Common People.
One of six colleges that recently came together under the banner of University of the Arts London, it has campuses in Richbell Place and Archway, and is actually the product of a 1989 merger between Saint Martin’s School of Art, established in 1854, and the Central School of Art, founded in 1896.
The Central the School’s first Principal, architect William Richard Lethaby, pioneered an educational approach which attempted to rid the barriers between the “intellectualism of design” and the “practical skills of production.”
Both Saint Martin’s School of Art and the Central School became focus points in the 20th century for radical practice across the visual arts prior to the merger and it later welcomed Drama Centre London and the Byam Shaw School of Art to the fold, in 1999 and 2003 respectively.
The college’s nine programme areas are Art, Product, Ceramic & Industrial Design, Culture & Enterprise, Drama & Performance, Fashion, Graphic Communication Design, Spatial Practices, and Jewellery & Textiles, as well as Foundation and Access to higher education.
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Through the work of its staff and students, Central Saint Martins continues to build on the success of its past by pushing the boundaries of the arts, performance and design practice, and arts, performance and design education. Students are encouraged to innovate, and graduate as leaders and innovators.
In fact, its contribution to the arts has not gone unnoticed over the years and, in 1998 the London Institute received a Queen's Anniversary Prize for the “massive contribution” of Central Saint Martins to the growth of the fashion industry in Britain.
Later, in 2013, the University of the Arts London received the same prize for the contribution of the college’s industrial and product design graduates to commerce, industry and the design profession. Although the college did not receive independent assessment in the 2014 Complete University Guide league tables, it was ranked as part of the University of the Arts London, which received an overall ranking of 67 out of 124 institutions.
Central Saint Martins’ end-of-year degree shows in June are renowned for boundary-pushing work with emerging artists and designers showcasing the fruit of their labour in disciplines such as fashion, ceramics, industrial design, drama and performance, jewellery and textiles.
Off campus, there is plenty for students to do in the King’s Cross area – the fountains of Granary Square, King’s Cross Theatre, the House of Illustration, and the Camley Street Natural Park are all popular venues which are close by.