Finding connection, collaboration and community online at AcrossRCA
This year AcrossRCA celebrated its 10th anniversary with the biggest ever edition of the annual interdisciplinary festival.
Organised by the Academic Development Office, AcrossRCA enables students to explore new ideas and make new connections across the College community. This year, around 900 students from across the College took part in 41 online projects run by students, staff and alumni. Students participated from bedrooms, kitchens, and dining rooms around the world, increasing the event’s sense of diversity and scale.
Discover how four AcrossRCA projects found connection, collaboration and community online.
Designing for joy in an ageing society
Designing for Joy in an Ageing Society was a week-long project run by the Design Age Institute, part of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design. Through an inclusive design process, participants created designs that help people enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035.‘The ageing population is characterised by great diversity and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to design for ageing’ Sidse Carroll, Research Fellow, Design Age Institute, explained. ‘Tackling this challenge, requires joint efforts and therefore the opportunity to bring students from multiple design disciplines together to collaborate brings rich and innovative ideas to the table.’The project took place through talks and group work, with students using Miro to collaborate and present their ideas. The online format also enabled students to connect with older people from the Newcastle area through project partners from VOICE at Newcastle University, which provided vital insights for the development of their designs.
The outcomes addressed a variety of challenges, from older workers experiencing ageism to independent travelling in later life. The winning design was Duet, an analogue object that harnesses cutting-edge technology to encourage authentic connection and bring joy into communication through creative, collaborative storytelling with friends and family.
The tactile and sensory qualities of the screenMA Visual Communication, ran The Feelies Sensory Screens, a workshop exploring the tactile and sensory qualities of screen-based formats, based on her PhD research.‘Primarily experiencing our daily lives through our screens, we have been deprived of our sensory realities throughout the past year’ Barbara explained. ‘The students explored a number of strategies to generate haptic visuality. This included experimenting with tactile sound, shallow images or close-ups that make the screen image appear more like a malleable landscape, the grainy texture of analogue super 8 film or digital filters to sculpt a high resolution image.’The participants’ different locations and makeshift work environments added to the variety of outcomes, as Barbara explained: ‘As a result of the diversity of work places, the students produced very intriguing responses – highly personal and at once experimental, experimenting with their usual specialist materials and practices while improvising with everything they have to hand.’
ALT/ARChive: The Alternative Archiving Workshop was run by V&A/RCA MA History of Design students and founders of the online archive Design in Quarantine, Anna Talley and Fleur Elkerton.Since April 2020 Design in Quarantine has archived over 450 design responses to the pandemic; featured in publications including the New York Times, ICON, Financial Times, the Evening Standard; and been awarded a Virtual Student Award by the Design History Society.
‘We wanted to produce a workshop based on the methodologies we had been using, and also to unpick and respond to archiving as a practice’ Anna and Fleur explained.Participants designed their own personal archive and shared a manifesto of collecting. Discussing the outcomes, Fleur and Anne observed: ‘We noticed how archives often have a very intimate and close relationship to the creator – many of our participants showed objects and collections that linked to family members, national identity or cultural heritage.’