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Winners of the 2021 Helen Hamlyn Design Awards announced

Four RCA graduate projects have been announced as winners of the 2021 Helen Hamlyn Design Awards

From combating domestic food waste to providing social housing on flood plains, bridging the gap between physical and digital learning, and finding new uses for ceramic waste, each winner proposes an innovative solution to a pressing global challenge using people-centred, inclusive design.

Alongside the student awards, the winners of the Alumni award, Fixperts Award and Inclusive Design Champion 2021 have also been announced. This is the first time that the awards have included the Inclusive Design Champion Award, which recognises the outstanding achievements and contributions to the field of inclusive design. 

The annual Helen Hamlyn Design Awards recognise creativity in people-centred and inclusive design across all disciplines of the College. The awards are organised by the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design (HHCD), which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

This year's ceremony also included the launch of Designing a World for Everyone, the new book published by Lund Humphries by Professor Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Chair of Design.

The Snowden Award for Disability

Winning project awarded a prize of £2,000

Disharee Mathur, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Project Newblue

ceramic objects arranged against a pale blue background
Project Newblue, Disharee Mathur
Project Newblue used participatory design to diversify the traditional craft of Jaipur Blue Pottery and support cultural and economic sustainability. Disharee worked with local artisans to develop a material composite that uses ceramic waste to increase the strength of the traditional blue pottery recipe and broaden its applications. This community-first approach ensures the compatibility and suitability of the new material, which is only the second technological intervention in blue pottery since the 1860s. 

Frances von Hoffmanstahl of the Snowdon Trust said:

‘The Snowdon Trust has chosen to award Disharee Mathur for her Project Newblue. The project’s focus on craft and heritage and intent to support a culture and community whilst innovatively using waste materials of today is outstanding and inspiring.’

The Northumbrian Water Award for Inclusive Innovation

Winning project awarded a prize of £2,000

Jeremy Hulse, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

Yuck Yuck Bye Bye

A photograph of some mouldy food waste with the words Yuck Yuck Bye Bye
Yuck Yuck Bye Bye, Jeremy Hulse
Yuck Yuck Bye Bye is a low-cost solution for treating food waste at the point of collection, in order to improve hygiene in the home and address the ‘yuck factor’ – the most common reason for non-participation in food waste collection or recycling schemes.

Onny Eikhaug, a president and board member of EIDD said:

‘Yuck Yuck Bye Bye brings understanding to the everyday issue of food waste which affects millions globally. It’s inclusive design approach is low-cost, holistic, easy-to-use and directly addresses social and environmental sustainability.’

The EIDD-Design for All Europe Award for Social impact

Winning project awarded a prize of £2,000

Natalie Bar-David Frenkel, MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering

MO, Motion Oriented Playground

A school child against a brick wall draws a rainbow in the air, which is superimposed on the photograph above the word MO
MO, Natalie Bar David Frenkel
MO is an AI system that bridges the gaps between physical and digital learning through playful movement in a virtual space. Through research with different types of learners and educational methods, Natalie has designed a physical controller that supports the pivotal early years, when four years olds are building muscles as well as cognitive and social habits.

Angela MacOscar of Northumbrian Water Ltd said:

‘We loved the innovation that lives in this product. The pandemic has significantly disrupted the learning experience and this smart device will encourage movement and allow children to actively co-interact. We whole-heartedly support narrowing the digital divide.’

The Helen Hamlyn Award for Creativity

Winning project awarded a prize of £2,000

Jessica Tiffany Hindradjaja, MA Architecture

Spaces of Spillages: Rethinking Jakarta's High-rise Social Housings

a digital render of a design for mid-rise social housing in Jakarta, Indonesia
Spaces of Spillages: Rethinking Jakarta's High-rise Social Housings, Jessica Tiffany Hindradjaja
Spaces of Spillages is an alternative proposal for social housing in Jakarta, Indonesia. It negotiates the city’s need for water management with the everyday labour arrangements of kampung kota’s lower-income households. The project proposes a mid-rise terraced building that includes housing units, production spaces, and spaces that allow occupation of the floodplain. The building negotiates the city’s flood management effort without relocating kampung residents away from their neighbourhood and social infrastructure.

Lucy O’Rorke from the Helen Hamlyn Trust said:

‘This urban scheme addresses the real issues that many people who live in floodplains face. A beautiful translation of ‘on-the-ground’ research into a model of architecture, inviting community coexistence for Jakarta. We loved the idea of designing in spaces for misappropriation and mischief.’


There were also two runners up projects for the student awards, who each won £200:

Giovanni Dipilato, MA Design Products, RESET – a system that allows people with low vision to play tennis by audio-tracking the ball.

Jingyi Li, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design, Moception – an eyes-free text editing method that uses a mixture of speech and mid-air gesture input.

Alumni Award

This award is presented to a previous Research Associate of The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design.

Ralf Alwani (MA Architecture, 2016)

computer visualisation of a bridge over the River Foyle at night lit up with pink and purple lights
Our Future Foyle, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design
Ralf joined the HHCD team in 2016 where he worked on Our Future Foyle. This project partnered with Public Health Agency Northern Ireland to revitalise the area around the River Foyle, which had become synonymous with suicidal behaviour. 

Since leaving the centre, Ralf has gone on to co-found Urban Scale Interventions, a studio that uses design to solve social challenges, creating public spaces that increase mental health and foster creative solutions for intervention. This year, Ralf was named in Forbes top 30 under 30 for his work in the area of social impact.

Inclusive Design Champion 2021

Valerie Fletcher

Fletcher’s career has been divided between design and social justice. As Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), she oversees consultation and design services to public and private entities in the US and globally. She created the IHCD User/Expert Lab which has over 500 people with lived experience of a physical, sensory or brain-based functional issue. She also drives the IHCD initiative on the Changing Reality of Disability that seeks to illuminate the relationship between inequity, racism and disability.

Fixperts Award

The Fixperts learning programme has taken place in 45 universities and higher education institutes across 23 countries since 2013. Teams of students work on extraordinary design projects that positively impact the daily life of a real person.

Each year, the Helen Hamlyn Design Awards presents a Fixperts Award for the best of these Fixperts projects from the global network. The Fixperts Award winning project was Glove Device for Jo by Adam Boult, Cleo Morgan and Anwen Parnis from the University of Brighton England; the runners up project was Climbing Maze by Itai Miller and Kama Zigelman from Holon Institute of Technology, Israel. The Fixperts Designing in a Pandemic Award winning project was Illuminated Mask for Ben by Eddie Cockroft, Ben Talbot and Oscar Van Til from the University of Brighton, England; the runners up project was A Portable Face Mask Cleaner by Sean Heaney, Henry Leeson, Rory Watkins, Joshua Pasner-Kane, Liam Bosinius and Christina Alvarez from Brunel University London, England.

Thanks to the sponsors and industry partners of the 2021 Helen Hamlyn Design Awards for their generous support: Helen Hamlyn Trust, Snowdon Trust, Northumbrian Water Ltd. and EIDD-Design For All Europe.

Helen Hamlyn Trust

The Helen Hamlyn Trust is an independent grant-making Trust. The trust initiates medium and long-term major projects linked to the shared interests of Lady Hamlyn and her late husband Lord Hamlyn. Its core ethos is to develop innovative projects, which aim to effect lasting change, improve quality of life and create opportunity for the benefit of the public.

Snowdon Trust

The Snowdon Trust is a charity that assists physically and sensory disabled people to access vocational and academic courses in the UK by awarding grants. Since 1981 the Trust has given grants of over £3.5 million to help more than 2,500 people achieve qualifications and futures that might otherwise not have been possible.

Northumbrian Water Ltd

Northumbrian Water Limited is a water company in the United Kingdom, providing mains water and sewerage services in the English counties of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and parts of North Yorkshire, and also supplying water as Essex and Suffolk Water. 

EIDD-Design for All Europe    

EIDD-Design for All Europe is a European network, founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 1993 with the name of European Institute for Design and Disability. EIDD-Design for All Europe is now a federation of 44 Member Organisations in 19 European countries and 4 Extra European countries. With a strong interdisciplinary approach, the majority of members are professionals in design-related fields.