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Pokémon Establishes Scholarships to Support Innovative Creativity at the RCA

The Pokémon Company has awarded a significant grant – the first of its kind – to establish two scholarships that support the creation and exploration of innovative art and design.

Pokémon and the Royal College of Art are delighted to announce this partnership, which will support two full-fee scholarships for two second-year MA students studying in the School of Design and the School of Communication.

The Pokémon Scholarship has been established to support pioneering students who demonstrate the potential for breaking new ground with their creative forces in the visual arts, design and communication. The scholarship includes a trip to Japan for the scholars to visit the Pokémon studios.

The inaugural scholarships have been awarded by Pokémon to Amir Afshar (Innovation Design Engineering) and Jesse Cahn-Thompson (Information Experience Design).

Since launching in 1998, Pokémon has evolved with ever-advancing media and technology, to become one of the leading entertainment and digital pioneers in the world, producing a wide range of content, products and ways to experience the dynamic world of Pokémon.

Professor Paul Anderson, Dean of the School of Design, said: ‘We’re delighted that the Pokémon Company, known for pushing the boundaries in design and technology, has chosen to invest in our students. Their generous scholarships will change the lives of these students and expose them to a new culture of thinking and design.’

Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Dean of the School of Communication, commented: ‘The Pokémon Scholarship is an excellent opportunity for our students in the School of Communication to consider their emerging practices in relation to the context of the world’s issues, concerns and contexts. It gives our students the opportunity to build bridges between cultures, technologies and audiences.’

Tsunekazu Ishihara, Pokémon Company CEO said: 'Pokémon evolved as a brand by embracing new technologies and collaborating with partners from new fields. They range from data communication systems and geolocation-related technologies to partners in fashion and art. Through this scholarship, I am delighted to support students who show the potential for creating a new industry or mode of expression by exploring hitherto unknown possibilities. I hope that the scholarship will facilitate fruitful exchanges between the company and the students at the Royal College of Art, stimulating new creative thinking among all parties involved.'

Jesse Cahn-Thompson's practice aims to make complicated things simple through art and design. He does this by creating alternative sensory experiences for information, such as turning social media data into perfume with ‘artificial intelligence’, and using minute-to-minute molecular changes in air pollution to compose slow music.

‘The relationship between physical and digital space is a recurring theme in my work,’ he explained. ‘Being recognised by such an innovative, imaginative organisation as the Pokémon Company is such a privilege. It has been a giant confidence boost and a great reminder to trust my creative instincts and future vision.’

Amir Afshar is a British–Iranian creative technologist. His work focuses on exploring how emergent technology will affect our future societies, whether in the implications of AR and VR for the future of architecture, or in hardware solutions to challenge AI video manipulation.

As a multidisciplinary designer, previously trained as an architect, Amir’s approach is to imaginatively tackle projects at varying scales, from wearables that enhance our senses to the city-scale implications of autonomous vehicles. His current projects include a series of machines that transform lobster shells into bioplastics and an exploration into the implications of architectural ceramics.

Discussing the scholarship he said: ‘I’m truly honoured to have been selected as a Pokémon Scholar. The scholarship gives me the security to push my experimentation even further than before and allows me the opportunity to be more radical in my explorations without fear of constraints or lack of specialist equipment.’

Find out more about studying in the School of Design and how to Apply.