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The One Club of Creativity Content Feature

SA born designer Margaret Calvert awarded TDC Medal

The Type Directors Club has announced South African typographer Margaret Calvert OBE RDI as this year’s recipient of its highest honour, the TDC Medal.
Margaret Calvert has been given the award for her work. Source: Supplied.
Margaret Calvert has been given the award for her work. Source: Supplied.

Outstanding contribution

First awarded to Hermann Zapf in 1967, the TDC Medal recognises individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of typography. The honour represents TDC’s collective gratitude to those who, by their work and talent, have demonstrated the value of typography in communication, community, and culture.

Calvert is best known for her work with Jock Kinneir on the design of Britain’s road signing system, starting with the motorways In the late 50s and coming into effect with the all-purpose roads in 1965.

“The history of the alphabet and the design of letterforms goes back a long way, so to be awarded such a prestigious Medal, amongst so many previous distinguished winners, is indeed a great honour,” she said. “I am more than delighted.”

Born in South Africa, Calvert’s family moved to England when she was age 13. She went on to attend London’s Chelsea College of Art, specialising in Illustration and Printmaking. At the end of her course, she was invited to join Kinneir, a visiting tutor, to assist him in designing signs for Gatwick Airport.

Much of her work has been in partnership with Kinneir, for clients such as the British Airports Authority and British Rail during the 60s and 70s. This was followed by signage for the Tyne and Wear Metro in 1980, where she used her own lettering, now marketed as ‘Calvert’ by Monotype.

Extensive career

Calvert had a long association with the Royal College of Art, where she taught part-time from 1966, and was head of Graphic Design from 1987 to 1991, concluding in 2001. Her many prestigious awards include an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art, and the Misha Black medal for Distinguished Services to Design Education.

In 2021, London’s Design Museum held an exhibition of her work entitled Margaret Calvert: Woman at Work, featuring Rail Alphabet 2, designed in collaboration with Henrik Kubel. The typeface, created specifically for Network Rail, went on to be a winner in TDC’s 24th Annual Typeface Design Competition. Examples of her British road signs are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Calvert’s TDC Medal is announced in tandem with that of the esteemed group of advertising, design, and education innovators who are this year’s inductees into The One Club for Creativity’s Creative Hall of Fame. The honours will be presented at this Creative Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a black-tie gala to support The One Club’s many global programs, on 5 September 2024, at Gotham Hall in New York.

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