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RCA Designers Develop Projects to Improve Quality of Life in Helen Hamlyn Design Awards 2014

Innovative footwear to help people with neurological conditions walk with confidence, and a new service to support unpaid carers in the community were among winning graduate projects at the 2014 Helen Hamlyn Design Awards earlier this week.

The awards, organised by the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, recognise outstanding graduate design projects that contribute to improving quality of life.

Other winning work included an architectural vision for digitally connected cities in the UK and a radical new urban mobility concept. The four main award categories were sponsored by AgeUK, GMW Architects, MIE Medical and the Technology Strategy Board. Representatives from each organisation gave prizes totalling £10,000 at an awards ceremony on Tuesday (24 June).

Helen Hamlyn, founder of the Helen Hamlyn Trust, which has endowed the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the RCA, gave her own personal award for creativity. There was also a special award for alumni of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, given this year to architect Harry Dobbs of Harry Dobbs Design.

Royal College of Art Rector, Dr Paul Thompson, said: 'These awards demonstrate how young designers in all disciplines can put social activism and user research at the centre of their work.'


The Helen Hamlyn Design Awards 2014 Winners

AgeUK Award for Inclusive Design

Winner: Vivienne Heyhoe, Service Design 

Caring Voices is a support service for unpaid carers that lessens the individual burden to carers of looking after friends and family at home. It helps carers monitor, record and value their role, and gives them discounts in the community. Judge, Professor James Goodwin of Age UK, said: 'For the 6.5 million carers in the UK, removing the burden and isolation of caring is important. This project provides practical, well considered and compassionate solutions to the problem.'

TSB Innovation for Living Award 

Winner: Henri Peugeot, Vehicle Design

Seyan is an alternative individual mobility concept composed of two compatible vehicles – a smaller wheelchair-sized design emerges from a compact city car, crossing boundaries between inside and out, reshaping the idea of mobility for all.  Judge Jackie Marshall-Balloch from the Technology Strategy Board said: 'Finally, an individual mobility concept that trashes the stereotype of unattractive designs around mobility. Instead it embraces the human desire for self-esteem, beauty and autonomy to go places in style.'

MIE Design Award for Healthcare and Patient Safety

Winner: Lise Pape, Innovation Design Engineering

Path aims to increase mobility confidence for those with degenerative neurological conditions. Based on user-research with sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's, Path uses visual and tactile cues to trigger movement and provide enhanced support for balance and gait. Judge Brian Firth from MIE Medical Research commented, 'The project should be an inspiration to all medical device companies because it puts the user at the centre of solution creation.'

GMW Design Award for Work and City 

Winner: James Pockson, Architecture

Cities: Game Over? investigates a possible future for public space in the digital age – a future in which connectivity and mobility have become central drivers in the planning of cities. The result is the design for Old Oak Common in London, part of the proposed HS2 network and billed as the "most connected place in the UK". Judge Tim Hardingham from GMW Architects said, 'This project reasserts the role of the architect as agent provocateur.'

Helen Hamlyn Award for Creativity

Joint winners: Vivienne Heyhoe (Service Design) - Caring Voices and Lise Pape (Innovation Design Engineering) - Path. 

Other Awards

Harry Dobbs of Harry Dobbs Design – RCA Graduate 2001 and Helen Hamlyn Research Associate 2002 – was the winner of The Helen Hamlyn Design Award for Alumni. Judge Jeremy Myerson, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design said: 'Harry’s work combines architecture, design and people in the public realm in a way that is inclusive, artistic and technically ingenious.’

The RCA Fixperts Award, an open knowledge sharing platform, went to The Right Trousers – 'Fixpert' Alon Meron, RCA Design Products graduate 2008, and Fixperts Partners John Cahill and his London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham support worker, Michael Hooker. Henry Richards was Filmmaker.

Highly Commended projects:

  • Bohyun Han, Service Design, mPrePARE was commended as having the 'potential to improve clinical accuracy and reassure hospital patients in the ruin-up to surgery'.
  • Offer Canfi, Design Product, The Flux was commended as a 'complete end-to-end solution for road-powered electric bike technology'.
  • Anna Wojdecka, Innovation Design Engineering, Lumo was acknowledged as an 'innovative solution for visually impaired students and scientists enabling recognition of shapes and colours using sound'.