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Photography, Architecture and Innovation Design Engineering Students Receive Burberry Design Scholarships

Three Royal College of Art students from Architecture, Innovation Design Engineering and Photography are the recipients of this year’s Burberry Design Scholarships. The scheme, launched in 2012 by Burberry’s chief executive and RCA Fashion alumnus Christopher Bailey, is part of Burberry’s aims to nurture and support creative talent in the UK. The scholarship supports students through funding their studies, a placement at the innovative British heritage brand and an iPad.

Here, we speak to the three students: Joseph Dejardin, MA Architecture; Naomi Bailey-Cooper, MA Innovation Design Engineering and Alexander Christie, MA Photography about their work and what the scholarship will enable them to do. 

Joseph Dejardin, MA Architecture 

Dejardin is interested in the expanded role of the architect within the contemporary design environment. Among his recent work is a project with architect Pernilla Ohrstedt creating staging for  the Antipodium London Fashion Week show. The award will allow Joseph to alleviate the necessity of a restrictive bank loan and will allow him a platform from which to more easily explore his interests.

‘My own work is between performance and installation. I normally explore geopolitical issues through slightly surreal interfaces. My most recent project before I came to the RCA was a type of dinner party looking at the relationship between the different states in the Arctic Circle and the conflicts that stem from natural resources. I made the table and chairs and projections.  It’s amazing to have won the scholarship and have my fees paid. Otherwise, when I finish I’d have had to go to my current company's head office in Switzerland and spend a couple of years there working to pay off my debts. Now, I’m able to make my own decisions about my future and take on projects that I probably wouldn’t be otherwise able to. I can get myself started as soon as I finish at the RCA.

For the placement at Burberry, I’m interested in events more than store design. I’ve worked on a couple of smaller shows and done installation pieces myself, so I’m always quite interested in the logistical pieces. I also like that Burberry has strong digital integration. In my work, it’s vital to keep abreast of these sorts of developments.’

Naomi Bailey-Cooper, MA Innovation Design Engineering

Bailey-Cooper's focus on innovation is around the use of digital technology and new materials in a fashion context. During her undergraduate studies, she was involved in projects for Gucci and The Design Against Crime Research Centre, where she investigated smart materials and communications techniques for anti-counterfeiting. She believes that an internship at Burberry will increase her understanding of innovation, science and technology – the area she wishes to pursue.

‘I came onto the IDE course after completing a fashion design degree because I wanted to explore technical innovation on more of an industrial scale, particularly through sustainable materials and manufacturing. I am also very interested in brand experience and communication devices having worked in this area prior to starting the course. My work is very interdisciplinary. I am interested in using science and engineering in design, and at the moment I'm experimenting a lot. So far this term I have worked on location-specific podcasts to encourage walking in London, a natural ventilation system for farm buildings, and a made-to-measure anthropometric chair. 

Winning the scholarship means that I can remain on the course, because without it I would really have struggled financially to get myself through first year, let alone second year. It's a huge relief. Prior to winning the award I was working over 20 hours a week at two part-time jobs to fund myself. I can now dedicate more time to my studies and feel as though I am getting the full benefit of being at the RCA. Being backed financially by a company such as Burberry is really exciting because of the direction it's heading with fashion digitalisation.’ 

Alexander Christie, MA Photography 

Alexander Christie, MA Photography
Alexander Christie, MA Photography, 2013

Christie is a photographer concerned with the changing urban landscape of London. His work, like Burberry, has a very British identity steeped in culture and heritage. He is interested in the social implications of a changing landscape, and the architectural and physical impact on the environment.

‘My main practice is around disappearing landscapes for working class and the urban environment through regeneration or gentrification. Buildings are being demolished with council estates bearing the brunt of this. I’m interested in documenting the change. I grew up on a council estate, so it’s an issue quite close to my heart. I have my own outlook on what it’s doing, and what’s happening to local communities. I come from that angle, but I am also trying to understand the other side – why gentrification is happening and the wider discussions around the changing populations of London, and how, over time, that's going to change.

Burberry has a long history with Britain and its culture, and has been through regeneration itself in recent years, so this could marry up. I’m open to possibilities, porous to new influences. Burberry's interesting in its creative direction, how they plan advertising, and use iconography and visual language to communicate with the viewer. This is definitely something I could learn from to use in my own photography.’