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The RCA celebrates a three-year partnership with OPPO as graduates humanise technology for London Design Festival 2021

This month, the Royal College of Art (RCA) celebrates a successful three-year partnership with world leading smart device manufacturer and innovator OPPO as students showcase the latest in a series of studio projects in collaboration with OPPO during London Design Festival 2021. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world and imposed a myriad of consequences impacting our life – habits, wellbeing and social connections – OPPO x RCA’s studio project ‘The New Extraordinary’ invites us to reimagine technology for life beyond the new normal, through design, and embrace a humanistic approach to the colossal changes taking place in our everyday lives. 

Taking place from 18 to 26 September at 35-36 Thurloe Place in London’s Brompton Design District, MA Design Products graduates from the RCA present their findings having considered how the past year has brought into question the relationships designers have with technology, non-human entities, society and the state. Highlight projects – across sectors such as health and wellbeing, education innovation, connected services, systemic changes, and new realities – include:

  • Inspired by the 1.43 trillion pictures humanity produced in 2020, the collective minds of Arnau Donate Duch, Marco Da Re, and Ilayda Kal present C-Earth, a system that allows us to give a second purpose to images we take every day with our phones and to help scientists and policymakers monitor the impact of climate change at a local scale.
  • 3Doodle is a new educational platform for children to enjoy and share real-time 3D drawings to easily understand the three-dimensional world in their future.
  • Aura, a project by Harika Adivikolanu, is an interactive device and wearable system that enhances the yoga practice through tactile assistance, bridging the gap between studio based exercises and home alternatives by creating an experience for a more mindful practice. 

Jintong Zhu, Head of OPPO London, said: 
'This programme is an extraordinary opportunity for us to meet, work with, and even potentially hire some of the world’s most adventurous and talented young designers. With the theme this year, ‘The New Extraordinary’, we want young design talents to rethink two very important questions: ‘How do we work in this unexpected new global landscape we find ourselves in after Covid?’ and ‘What is the future of design considering what the past year and a half has taught us?’

Alon Meron, Design Product Tutor, Royal College of Art, said:
'Working with a real industry partner gives our students the opportunity for some insider feedback, reflecting the multiple contexts that design projects need to balance.  Insights from the OPPO teams are a brilliant push to the development of concepts with relevance to reality.  Our students are given complete liberty to develop their personal visions, with the support of the teams from the RCA and OPPO to help them steer between the fantastical and the super practical.' 

OPPO’s international design hub, OPPO London Design Centre, is responsible for forging the triumphant partnership with the RCA. The programme is mutually beneficial as it provides mentoring and design project feedback covering topics such as industry insights, technology trends, and consumer insights in product design. RCA students have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field whilst the programme enables OPPO to work with some of the most promising future designers to further aid its position globally as a leader in technology design and innovation.