Inside

Show 2017 School of Design: Human-centred Innovation

The School of Design Show 2017 offers an incredible depth and range of technical innovation and human-centred design. ‘What stands out is the tangibility of the designs,’ said Paul Anderson, Dean of the School of Design. ‘This is not speculative design; students are proving concepts with live, working prototypes.’

With a term spent at the Pratt Institute, New York and at Keio University, Tokyo, Global Innovation Design (GID) immerses students in global cultures, enabling them to tackle significant innovation challenges, as well as build international networks of collaborators. ‘Our students are technology orientated, cultural translators,’ explained Head of Programme Dr Jonathan Edelman. ‘What makes GID unique is the emphasis on cultural understanding and culturally appropriate design.’

A key example is Ryan Mario Yasin’s project Petit Pli a clothing range that grows with the child wearing it, reducing the need to buy new clothes, which was influenced by and developed with the Japanese market in mind. Similarly, Engage, a group project by Hermione Townsend, Ralf Josef, Daniel Coppen and Florencia Sepulveda, provides a set of toolkits to raise awareness of mental health in different culturally specific contexts. 

Other GID projects that use technology to change behaviour include Arthur Carabott’s Musician’s Mirror, which provides musicians with audible feedback to help them improve posture when practising in order to avoid injury, and Minimap by Daniel Coppen and Sreelakshmi V. Menon, which uses video-game mechanics to gamify the way we navigate our surroundings and facilitates serendipitous discoveries.

In Design Products, design is seen as a catalyst for change. ‘Across the five platforms on the programme, there is an eclectic approach, ranging from craft techniques to emerging futures,’ explained Rob Philips, acting Head of Programme. ‘The product of Design Products is the designers of the future, who can question what design is and where it is going.’

One such future vision is The Third Thumb created by Danielle Clode. This prosthetic additional digit strengthens and enhances natural dexterity through wearable and robotic technical innovation. Looking to the future of manufacturing processes, Laurent Biernaert has created a 3D printed surfboard, which is made as a bespoke product, twinned to its user and printed from recycled plastic.

Tolu Odusanya’s project tackles the current urgent problem of energy supply in Africa, focusing on Makoko, a floating fishing village that is one of the biggest self-organised settlements in Nigeria. Collaborating with architecture student Umi Baden-Powell and experts in the fields of microbiology, biogas and engineering, the project presents a minimum viable product for a biogas generator.

Other students have created projects that encourage playful interactions. Kaoline Kau's augmented reality game transforms players into birds and acts as a research tool to generate knowledge about the relationships players have with wildlife. Pasquale Totaro’s Pyramid Synth creates and augments sounds in response to the physical characteristics of objects, such as weight, colour, and texture, making music something that people can engage with in an intuitive way.

The diverse backgrounds, interests and expertise of Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) students are reflected in the projects showcased this year. ‘On IDE very different people work together and alongside each other,’ explained Senior Tutor Savina Torrisi. ‘This results in cross-pollination, collaboration and hybrid ideas. IDE creates outputs that are part of wider systems, based on critical thinking and critical observations applied to future scenarios and human-centred design.’

Reto Togni has created the world's first manual everyday wheelchair with a steering system. Users control the chair through upper body movement rather than breaking and pushing, making it easier and more pleasurable to use, improving body awareness and stimulating muscles that are not otherwise used.

Remora proposes a solution to the pressing problem of ocean plastics. Robert Edwin Rouse’s design is a hybrid turbo-machinery system for the reclamation and prevention of ocean plastics, providing marine energy and marine propulsion, while removing micro plastics from the water. Focusing on the quality of drinking water at home, Pratik Ghosh’s Drop by Drop is a domestic water filtration system that uses plants to remove contaminants such as nitrates, chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals and even bacteria.

Addressing another pressing issue, privacy and data security, Jonathan Rankin has created a handheld device that reveals what data is being recorded – allowing users to assess their surroundings and make choices about the information they want to share and with whom.

Service Design applies design thinking to the service sector, which accounts for 80 per cent of the UK economy. Working with major organisations and government bodies, students examine complex systemic issues and create new services that transform customer and citizen experience.

Just Check is an HIV self-testing system, designed by John Makepeace and Wei-Teng Lin, which aims to increase early diagnosis of HIV by fighting stigma and making diagnosis and support more accessible. Encouraging a more general awareness of health, Amit Kalra and Kyung Dae Park have created Groove an exercise app that features a simple visualisation letting you know how healthy your behaviour is, based on the amount of exercise and sleep you are getting and what you are eating.

Several projects address education services including STEM Squad by Min Kyung Cho and Jia Xiang Chua, which helps parents to assist children learning STEM-based subjects and Sophi by Culainn Boland-Shanahan which is designed to help retain Newly Qualified Teachers within the teaching profession.

Like the other programmes in the School of Design, Vehicle Design takes a holistic approach proposing novel solutions to current and future problems. The programme embraces change and invites discussion to address global mobility challenges, anticipating diverse consumer expectations.

The potential of autonomous vehicles opens the possibility for vehicles’ interiors to become spaces with new, specific purposes. Armin Peters has designed a vehicle that provides a private and confidential environment for journalists to work away from surveillance, whereas Sam Philpot has created an environment that improves mental health, focusing on mindfulness and encounters with nature, which are identified by the NHS as key qualities that help positive mental wellbeing. Shenyue Shi has proposed a more bodily engagement with vehicles, enabling passengers to communicate through tactile surfaces and gesture.

Considering the needs of future cities, Pontus Merkel has designed a vehicle for car sharing, with the developing city in mind. The adaptable vehicle is able to transport resources as well as groups of people. Looking further afield and further into the future, Brian Black has created The Overview Effect – a virtual reality experience that allows users to remotely operate unmanned rovers on other worlds. This experience elicits a greater understanding of the intention behind manned space exploration, and our place in the universe.