How to… Research and Innovate?

November 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Uncategorized 

How do you know how to approach a brief? How do you do design research? And how do you turn that research into innovation? These are the pressing questions the RSA Student Design Awards tackled with approximately 100 students from across the country as part of our workshop programme over the last few weeks.

As a global curriculum and competition, the RSA Student Design Awards are working to provide increased opportunities for participants to develop new insights and skills to complement their design education. In addition to workshops this year on design innovation (described here), we’ve run workshops on commercial awareness and designing behavior change and our workshop programme is growing.

One of the biggest challenges for designers is not second-guessing the solution before they’ve carried out the research because they want to design a particular product or service or already have an idea in mind.

Our 2014 design innovation workshops, facilitated by Professor Simon Bolton FRSA (an internationally acclaimed designer, innovation consultant and global thought leader for Procter and Gamble as well as Associate Dean for Applied Research and Enterprise at the Faculty of the Arts, Design & Media, Birmingham City University) gave RSA Student Design Awards participants a set of practical tools to help understand a design brief, conduct impactful design research and translate insights into innovative ideas.

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NORTH: The Great Debate

November 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Design and Society 

Guest article by Kasper de Graaf FRSA, producer, NORTH, @kasperdegraaf

NORTH: The Great Debate, organised as part of Design Manchester 14, brought together national and regional leaders of the creative industries, politics and education to discuss how the creative sector can help build “the northern powerhouse” – a vibrant economy across the north of England.

In the week leading up to this debate, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched his TechNorth cluster project in Sheffield and the RSA’s City Growth Commission, chaired by Jim O’Neill, projected a £79 billion boost to the UK economy if power is devolved meaningfully. Read more

An Audience with Terence Woodgate, Royal Designer for Industry

October 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Innovation 

‘Designers were considering sustainability before sustainability really existed.’ It wasn’t what I expected to hear from an internationally renowned designer, but then it seems to be the job of designers to defy expectations.

Solid Slide #9

A light from Terence Woodgate’s SOLID range

This particular designer, Terence Woodgate, rose from humble beginnings in North London to become one of the RSA’s Royal Designers for Industry (RDI), the highest accolade for a designer in the UK and acclaimed for his exquisite furniture and lighting. After failing his 11+ and with dyslexia misdiagnosed as lack of aptitude, he was steered towards woodwork and found a niche in technical drawings – and maths. An apprenticeship at Gordon’s gin plant in Clerkenwell found him designing machines to stamp wax crests onto bottles, and was followed by work in the petrochemicals industry and travel in Europe and Asia. It wasn’t until his 30’s that Woodgate trained as a furniture designer.

One of Woodgate’s heroes is the iconic designer Charles Eames, who famously said: ‘I have never been forced to accept compromises but I have willingly accepted constraints’. Woodgate takes this a step further, declaring: ‘You have to be passionate about every constraint’. For him, this includes the material constraints that must be taken into account when designing for reusability or recyclability, and he maintains that it is the job of the designer to know about the whole life cycles of a product’s components. More than anyone, it is the designers of ‘cheap stuff’ who should be thinking about the lifespan of a product: ‘Because those are the first things that are going to be thrown away!’  

‘You have to be passionate about every constraint’

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The Big Idea: National Saturday Club

Support the UK’s next creative generation

This is a guest blog from the team at National Saturday Club. They’re looking for Fellows in the design, architecture and engineering industries who may be able to offer masterclasses, visits or creative career guidance, as well as Fellows who can introduce young people to their cultural institutions.

The National Art & Design Saturday Club provides young people aged 14-16 with the unique opportunity to study art and design every Saturday morning at their local college or university for free. Now in its sixth year, the Saturday Club runs in 41 locations across the UK, in colleges, universities and at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Read more

Pioneering social innovation in Malaysia

Genovasi Malaysia logoThis blog was originally posted on the news page of the RSA Student Design Awards website on 4th August 2014.

I am pleased to announce that nine emerging Malaysian innovators have won in the inaugural RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, winning a range of prizes worth a total of RM260,000. In addition, the winners all receive admission into Genovasi’s Innovation Ambassador Development Programme, complementary RSA Fellowship for a year, providing the students with access to the RSA’s Catalyst Fund and Skills Bank to further develop their projects.

The RSA Student Design Awards team partnered with Genovasi, a transformative learning institution focused on cultivating innovation skills in young people to develop and deliver the RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards, which launching in September 2013. Genovasi offers a human-centred learning experience to learn and use innovation for social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development for future transferable skills to face challenges in life. The RSA Genovasi Malaysia Awards focused on three project briefs for this pilot year: Active Citizens, Encouraging Social Entrepreneurship, and Citizenship and Communication in a Digital Age.

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Pupil Design Awards: The Winners!

pupil design awards_blog

“His enthusiasm is infectious and his motivation is undeniable. He has worked extremely hard to solve his chosen design problem and has produced a plausible design and concept.  He has worked well with his partner and shown a range of communication skills. Ilyas has developed a confident ability to present and hook the audience or potential buyer with conviction.  Above all I genuinely believe he has thoroughly enjoyed participating and being given an opportunity and chance to shine.”

If you’re a close follower of the RSA twitter account, you will have seen #PowertoCreate splashed all over your news feed this week, thanks to Matthew Taylor’s annual lecture and an ARC Directors Lunch time event.

They have been introducing us to the RSA’s new worldview: “The RSA believes that all should have the freedom and power to turn their ideas into reality”, and if the above quote isn’t an example of the Power to Create in action, I don’t know what is.

These words were written by D&T teacher, Miss Vesey, about Ilyas Mohammed, a year 10 student at Holyhead School in Birmingham, and the first ever winner of the RSA Pupil Design Awards’ Progress Prize.

Inspired by 90 hugely successful years of the RSA Student Design Awards, the programme’s baby sister, the Pupil Design Awards, has just celebrated its first birthday. The pilot project, which we ran across 3 of our RSA Academies, came to an end earlier this week with 20 finalists joining us at 8 John Adam Street for a day of presentations to our esteemed judging panel, a University tour and, most importantly, the handing out of the awards. Read more

Inspire + Innovate: Celebrating the next generation of designers

1. Jony Ive resized

Sir Jonathan Ive RDI

‘This promises to be a life changing experience for you’  - Sir Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple and Royal Designer for Industry.

Last month we celebrated  two impressive feats: the 90th anniversary of the RSA Student Design Awards (SDA), and the achievements of the 18 outstanding winning projects from this year’s competition, at our ‘Inspire + Innovate’ event, a memorable evening that recognised the power and necessity of design thinking in a rapidly changing world. Read more

What does a neuroscientist eat for breakfast?

June 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society, Recovery 

In its quest for a more ‘circular economy’, the RSA Great Recovery is focusing on the links between design, materials and waste. Last week, I visited the Science Museum’s new installation on rubbish.

The bowels of the Science Museum are perhaps an appropriate space for an exhibition about waste. You can smell it even before you reach the entrance to the Rubbish Collection. The odour has been somewhat deodorised for public consumption, but the unmistakeable whiff of putrefying food, stale coffee and plasticisers reaches into the stairwell above.

Needless to say it is this ‘pong’ that seems to prevent some visitors from venturing down into the strip-lit atrium, where volunteers in boiler suits and gloves are tipping bags of rubbish onto a row of white tables.

The Rubbish Collection is a project by artist Joshua Sofaer which hopes to change people’s attitudes towards waste by bringing them into close proximity with it. Once an object is brought into a museum, says Sofaer, it is usually imbued with a certain value and afforded a kind of reverence. Not so once it turns to waste, and he is on a mission to involve the public in documenting and examining the museum’s discards over a period of 30 days. Read more

GraphicDesign& Everything: graphic design and the wider world

June 17, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Design and Society 

In 2011, graphic designer Lucienne Roberts (RSA Fellow and founder of studio LucienneRoberts+, London) and design educator Rebecca Wright (Programme Director, Graphic Communication Design, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London) launched GraphicDesign&, a pioneering publishing house that publishes books and papers, hosts events and uses its online presence to explore the symbiotic nature of graphic design practice. Their first title, Page 1:
Great Expectations, was a GraphicDesign& Literature title. Their latest book, Golden Meaning, is a GraphicDesign& Mathematics title and has just been released.

The RSA Student Design Awards set out to demonstrate the societal benefits of applying design thinking in the wider world, so there is no better place than this to explain more about our venture GraphicDesign&. As a young student, I referenced the RSA in developing my ideas about the responsibilities inherent in graphic design. Existing only in dialogue with everything – and therefore everybody – else, it seemed to me to be a highly egalitarian form of visual art. Rebecca now cites the Awards as playing a critical role in helping her students consider graphic design’s interconnectedness more broadly still. But despite inroads, we have both been frustrated that the interdependent nature of our profession is generally not made explicit and it is this that prompted us to launch GraphicDesign&.

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Reflections on the RSA Student Design Awards (and not taking anything as a given)

June 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Design and Society 

Work is the road to the unification of the self. So wrote Richard Sennett, one of the world’s leading sociologists.

It sounds glib, but the sentiment is near universal. Whether you are a call-centre worker, corner shop owner, graphic designer or plumber, we are all deeply affected by the things we make and the places in which we work (though we may not always be conscious of this). It is through work that we have the opportunity to realise our talents, express ourselves, connect with friends and partners, grow as individuals and find some kind of meaning in a world that is often devoid of it. Needless to say, it is also where we can earn enough to support a decent livelihood.

Yet in spite of its significance, good work is still a distant prospect for many. Survey after survey shows that barely a third of employees feel engaged in what they do, with many ‘checking out’ mentally before they arrive at work. Last year the anthropologist David Graeber went so far as to write an essay about the proliferation of ‘bullshit jobs’ – forms of employment that he argues exist for no ostensible reason. Even those in more meaningful positions have come under strain, with real wages falling and pensions being squeezed. Add to this the impact of new technologies – which can disrupt work as much as enhance it – and the picture you get is of a workforce that is far from realising its potential.

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  • About Design and Society

    For 250 years the RSA has vigorously supported good design, encouraging invention and enterprise for the common good. In the 20th century this support was directed at championing good professional design and excellence in undergraduate design education. We are now exploring how else - above and beyond the impact of professional excellence - society can benefit from design.
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    Nat Hunter is a co-director of design. She trained in Psychology and Interaction Design and ran her own design agency for 14 years before coming to the RSA. Her interests lie in the power of design to agitate, inspire and change.

    Sophie Thomas is co-director of design. She has been working in the fields of sustainable design and material process for over 15 years, which has fuelled her curiosity about why things are the way they are. She wants improvement and knows that good design thinking is key. Follow @tmsophie

    Melanie Andrews is the Manager of the Royal Designers for Industry, a multidisciplinary group of designers appointed ‘RDI’ by the RSA for sustained excellence and significant benefit to society. She develops initiatives with them that add value to the RSA Academies, ARC projects, and runs their annual Summer School for creative thinkers. Follow @Melanie_Andrews

    Sevra Davis trained as an architect and urban designer and worked in both of these roles prior to coming to the RSA. She currently runs the national RSA Student Design Awards programme, thinking up design challenges for students that will address pressing social issues.

    Rebecca Ford is Assistant Manager of the RSA Student Design Awards, an annual competition for students to develop design-led solutions to big social challenges in the UK and beyond. She's also a trustee of youth arts organisation Phakama and co-founder of Digital Disruption, a project that empowers young people to engage critically with the Internet. Follow @RebeccaPFord

    @RSADesignAwards

    Hilary Chittenden is Design Assistant, working across a range of projects including the Great Recovery, FutureMakers and the Pupil Design Awards. A trained graphic and communications designer, Hilary also has a strong interest in design education. She founded and runs social enterprise Celebrate My Library in 2012. Follow @HilaryChitty

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