Show 2015: School of Design Prototypes and Proves Real-World Innovations
Home to a quarter of all the students at the Royal College of Art, the School of Design is the largest of its six Schools. At Show 2015, the six Design programmes assert their individual identities, while the approach of working collectively and sharing expertise shines through in common areas of interest and concern that can be traced across much of the work, from sustainable technologies to healthcare, global warming to designing for urban life.
Emphasising the importance of making throughout the programmes, Dean of the School of Design Professor Dale Harrow said: ‘From the sophistication of Vehicle Design to Innovation Design Engineering, quality of making is crucial and you can see that in the tactility of much of the work on show. At the same time, students are involved in new technologies, new processes and new ways of designing.’
In Design Products, students focus on creative invention for purpose. Sven Ladiges’ CargoRunner, intended to enable running to become a viable transport alternative, identifies a real-world need and has undergone extensive development and prototyping, exemplifying the depth of study valued by the programme. Jon Kuster’s circular economy kettle takes a currently disposable household item and reinvents it as a repairable, recyclable and therefore sustainable product. Yun-Ting Lin’s nanocellulose fibreboard, and Seongil Choi and Fabio Hendry’s Hot Wire Extensions both represent approaches that rethink the possibilities for existing materials. One of the educational projects in the show is Sadhbh Doherty’s The Lesson Designers, which creatively considers the skills needed for the twenty-first century that are not yet being taught at primary level.
Strong working links with industry mean that many projects are extremely outward facing, and students engage with real-world problems, developing ideas that work on the ground. In Vehicle Design, research into autonomous cars and developing a new taxi for London feed into shaping the curriculum. Yibo Wu’s Happie: The Google Self-Driving Car maximises on self-driving technology with its playful, light, sustainable and fully electric design.
Service Design is another outward-looking programme, bringing design to business and society. Charlyne Lefebvre-Paillé’s MoneyRecipes offers a smart solution to plummeting levels of financial literacy, and Alessandra Furetta’s MyCoach is a transformational project developed in collaboration with Orange and the US Agency for International Development. She describes it as: ‘a micro-education service that improves health, nutrition and access to market information for people living in some of the poorest regions of the world.’
The first graduating year of Global Innovation Design students present the visionary nature of this new programme in the diversity and bold scope of their projects: Daniel Garrett, Koraldo Kajanaku and Antton Peña’s Farewill is a simple tool for creating a will in moments; Pae Natwilai Utoomprurkporn’s Trik presents the dazzling technology to move objects by just pointing to the desired destination; and Filippo Del Carlo, Chema Pastrana and Sheana Yu have created the world’s first ‘acoustic photography’ device.
Working to use design and technology thinking to change the lives of others around the world in beneficial ways, students in Innovation Design Engineering are challenged to take on demanding projects with an emphasis on prototyping and proving propositions. Ellie Banwell’s metaBLAZE radically rethinks the economy, presenting incineration as a way to recover valuable resources and redirect them into the circular economy, countering practices such as designed obsolescence.
Design Interactions uses design to inspire, raise awareness and stimulate debate, considering the possibilities and consequences of new technology, for example: James Sunderland attends to dependency on online services; Rodrigo Lebrun tells of a fictional financial future; Neil Thomson explores modern economic theories through the production of a home-built hydromechanical economic computer; Nestor Azevedo Pestana imagines a future where humans take charge of their own evolutionary processes and biomodifications; and Yi-Wen Tseng asks ‘What if methane could be used as an alternative energy source in the advent of a biotechnological revolution?’.