Top award for 'Independent' magazine designer

The book and magazine designer Derek Birdsall, whose acclaimed work includes the first Independent magazine, has been awarded the Prince Philip Designers Prize.

The prize, whose origins go back to the early days of the Design Council in the 1950s, is presented for a lifetime's work. Previous recipients include James Dyson, Ron Arad, Terence Conran and Richard Foster.

Birdsall, 71, beat a shortlist including Zaha Hadid, the radical architect, and Michael Wolff, the branding and identity expert who co-founded Wolff Olins with Wally Olins, to the prize which was presented in London last night.

He was acclaimed for a career ranging from Pirelli calendars and Penguin paperback covers to the book version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Sir George Cox, chairman of the Design Council, said: "Derek Birdsall's contribution to graphic design was immense. Ranging from cutting-edge magazine work in the Sixties to the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer in 2000, his love of typography and dedication to his craft have produced many outstanding examples of graphic design. They have shaped the standards of a whole profession."

Derek Birdsall was born in Yorkshire and studied at the Wakefield College of Art before winning a place at Central St Martins art college in London. After national service, he was the art director on influential magazines such as Town and Nova. He started his own studio in Covent Garden, London, and established a reputation as a master craftsman. Last year he wrote Notes on Book Design, already seen as a seminal text.

As a visiting professor at the Royal College of Art in the late 1980s he met Alexander Chancellor, editor of the Independent magazine, and his first editions were published within weeks.

Simon Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, said he was delighted that Derek Birdsall was being honoured. "His work on the first Independent magazine contributed to the early success of this newspaper. Innovative and imaginative design has always been an important part of what we do."

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