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Student Showcase Archive

Sustain Show & Awards 2014: Thinking, Looking, Solving, Mobilising and Empowering

The SustainRCA Show and Awards is an annual event that celebrates graduate ideas that could radically change the world. This year's winning entries feature edible packaging for drinking; an open-source campaign toolkit that includes a drone to flyer messages in hard-to-reach places; in-depth research into the cut-flower industry; and a way of weaving unwanted fabric into new cloth. 

Thirty-five RCA graduate projects competed across four categories – Visionary Process, Inspired Product, Solutions for Society and Moving Minds. Winners were chosen by a panel including critic and writer John Thackara; Head of Design Products at the Royal College of Art, Sharon Baurley; former BIMA chairman and chief executive of agency Possible, Justin Cooke; social change and innovation expert, Josephine Green; and Serpentine solar boat designer, Christoph Behling.

Announcing the winners, John Thackara said: 'Artists and designers have always produced work that enables us to look at things in a different way. This body of work asks, “How do we look behind the fog of business as usual?” There are projects, like Marcin’s flower project, that get people to think about things that they haven’t before, while there are other projects that look at what can be practically done once it’s on the agenda. The transition from product to systems is evident. Products are the results of systems and processes, and we have to look at the systems from which the bad things came if we’re going to refashion them to make things good. There’s a whole vision of thinking, looking, solving, mobilising and empowering here.'

Inspired Product – honouring products that capture the imagination, addressing lifecycle, resource, energy and materials use.

Winner: Oooho! by Pierre Paslier, Guillaume Couche, Rodrigo García González
An alternative way of packaging water inspired by the way nature encapsulates liquids using membranes – aims to address energy, materials and resource use of plastic bottles. By deploying culinary ‘spherification’ techniques, water can be captured in a double gelatinous membrane, using brown algae and calcium chloride. Everyone can make Ooho! in their own kitchen, modifying and innovating the recipe. From DIY to CIY (Cook It Yourself), the final package is simple, cheap, resistant, hygienic, biodegradable – even edible.

Solutions for Society – honouring models of business, systems or services, or interventions that enable society to be more sustainable or fair.

Winner: Advanced Activism by Pierre Paslier
A response to police ‘kettling’ of protests and plans to use water cannons on protesters, this subversive campaign and activist open-source toolkit includes special spray paint and projector for guerrilla messaging; a drone for fly posters in hard to reach places and a remote-controlled car with ‘writing’ capabilities.

Moving Minds – honouring work that gets people thinking, or gets issues on the social agenda.

Winner: Flowering Transition by Marcin Rusak
An in-depth piece of design research into the cut-flower industry, consumerism and genetics that poses deep questions around beauty, nature and the way industry has evolved. The series of speculative designs include a perishable vase made from organic flower matter, and a fragrance test enables us to weigh up our own sensuous preferences – colour versus smell.

Visionary Process – honouring systems and ways of creating that produce positive rather than negative impact.

Winner: The New Value of Waste by Hana Mitsui
A weaving process deploying techniques derived from the traditional Japanese process ‘sakiori’, offers a way of transforming dead fabric stock, currently unusable in conventional industrial production into luxurious new cloth for high-end fashion garments.

Clare Brass, Head of SustainRCA said: 'Together, the creativity, and bright, systems-led thinking of RCA graduates show boundless possibilities for creating a more environmentally and socially just world that is better for us to live in. Through the range of creative disciplines – from design engineering to sculpture – the SustainRCA Show & Awards demonstrate how sustainability is not simply a resource matter, or a scientific debate about climate change. It is an issue underpinned by our values, identities and our relationships to each other and our environment. It is through art and design that we can begin to truly address these fundamental aspects.’

Looking Forwards: SustainRCA Show & Awards
18 September – 3 October, 11am 
 – 5.30pm daily
Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU
The Show and Awards is supported by Climate-Kic.