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Collaborative design thinking and playful hacks for Covid-19

The following article is part of a series examining how creatives in the RCA community are responding to the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19.

Designers from the RCA community have been adapting their skills to help meet the unprecedented demand for vital protective equipment and thinking big to help solve Covid-19 challenges. But they have also been finding inventive and playful ways to keep connected, continue collaborating and stay creative while self-isolating or social distancing.

Logitech Face Shield Hack

Logitech Bottle Shield
Logitech Bottle Shield, 2020
Alastair Curtis, RCA alumnus and Chief Design Officer at Logitech, took part in a ‘Face Shield Hack’ with his team at Logitech. Designers and engineers from across the organisation came together virtually to prototype a face shield using everyday items, including a plastic bottle, rubber band, a simple mask and glasses.

‘This was completely driven from the ground up’ Alastair explained. ‘Spurred by Branko Lukic, who grew up in Serbia during the war, and who knew the importance to act quickly, to improvise and make do with what you have. In sharing his ideas, Branko brought along a few individuals on the design and engineering team who wanted to use their strengths and expertise to make a difference in people's lives during this difficult time.’

Logitech Bottle Shield
Logitech Bottle Shield, Logitech 2020
The masks are intended for members of the public to make for themselves, with no specialist equipment, materials or skills, so that medically certified face masks and shields can be used by front line health and emergency response teams. The ‘simple recipe’ to make the shield was shared through social media channels to inspire people to devise their own inventive solutions. Alastair says it’s been exciting ‘to see the many positive responses, the resharing and the evolutions of the face shield’.

‘Collaboration and building on the ideas of others to learn and improve hasn't been more important than it is now’ Alastair commented. ‘This effort and others like it, allow people to gain a sense of control and take personal responsibility, empowering them to make things themselves, and hopefully view themselves as agents of change.’

Logitech Bottle Shield
Logitech Bottle Shield, 2020
Check out the step by step guide to making the shields, and take on the challenge to come up with a better solution. 

The Isolated Inventors

Screen grab from isolated inventors website
Isolated Inventors
To combat the frustrations and helplessness of being stuck indoors, two Innovation Design Engineering (IDE) alumni, Kate Strudwick and Timi Oyedeji have created Isolated Inventors, a platform that invites people to pose challenges and respond with playful inventions. 

isolated inventors
Isolated Inventors
The project was initiated as ‘a way for us to keep our brains active’, Kate and Timi explained. ‘We created the platform to give other people the opportunity to join us, or send in their own challenges to create a small community during isolation.’ This community started with their immediate network and connections within the design community, but quickly grew. ‘People were excited to start thinking about solutions to the briefs we were posting. These range from the redesign of face masks, to creating ways to make our indoor spaces feel bigger. We were most surprised about how far our little platform reached; we've had submissions all the way from India.’

The inventions prompt people to think creatively, with some more practical than others, from a toilet roll rationing system to cough and sneeze activated masks. Studying IDE, Kate and Timi are familiar with collaborative approaches. ‘We both thrive in spaces where people of different skills, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences come together to get creative about projects. The phrase "no man is an island" really resonates with us, now more than ever. Getting inspiration, encouragement, and feedback from the design community is what builds genuinely impactful solutions.’

a toilet roll holder
Isolated Inventors

Go to the Isolated Inventors website to see their inventions and resources, and take on one of their challenges yourself.

Click here to find out more about how the RCA community are responding to Covid-19.