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RCA2020: Designing for generations

‘One of the things that has most impressed me about RCA students is their enthusiasm for tackling some of society’s most difficult challenges, working with and for underrepresented and marginalised groups. Below is a collection of some of the most exciting work from RCA2020.’

– Colum Lowe, Director, Design Age Institute on RCA2020. 

We asked Colum Lowe, the Director of our new Research Centre – the Design Age Institute – to take a look around RCA2020 and share a selection of graduate work that resonated with his ambitions for the Centre.

Read on to see which RCA2020 projects Colum has highlighted.

1. Ellen Fowles, MA Fashion

Ellen Fowles, Marian, 2020
Marian, Ellen Fowles
‘Design can create disability, it is our responsibility to change that.’ Ellen’s capsule collection Marian was designed with and for her grandmother, Marian Fowles. As Ellen notes, despite the ‘excess of 'product' in the world… the needs of our ageing population and disabled people are broadly ignored.’ Through ethnographic research methods and cross-generational workshops involving the wearer and those they frequently interact with in the design process, Ellen has produced a collection of garments that seek to grant her grandmother the freedom to live as she wishes, rather than constrained by her clothing. 

2. Ricky Stoch, MA Visual Communication

Ricky Stoch, FebriSol, 2020
FebriSol, Ricky Stoch
Ricky uses design orientated solutions to solve 'real-world' problems. Her final project Febri-Sol, was created as a simple solution to help patients manage their medication. FebriSol is a sticker that, when added to antiretroviral (ARV) packaging, nudges patients into remembering to take their daily medication. When a patient takes their pills, they then scratch off the day’s metallic coating. This action reveals a tick, enabling patients to see at a glance whether they have taken their medication on any given day while also providing positive reinforcement.

3. Radhika Agrawal and Fanghui Song, MA Service Design

Radhika Agrawal and Fanghui Song, Nurtur, 2020
Nurtur, Radhika Agrawal and Fanghui Song
To help seniors tackle social isolation, Radhika and Fanghui have designed an age inclusive co-sharing platform. Nurtur aims to promote intergenerational engagement in the local community by bringing older and younger people together. Nurtur comprises four touchpoints: posters for public awareness, a Nurtur Pack for seniors, a Street Fair and the Nurtur App. The Nurtur App aims to help residents easily explore their neighbourhoods and connect with the right people and places, by looking for people with similar interests or guidance from a neighbourhood expert. These shared interests are used, not only as a way to bring people together, but serve as a space to support co-learning in a friendly and informal environment where knowledge and experience can be shared to create a value exchange between different generations.

4. Yi Zhou, MA Textiles

Yi Zhou, Upright, 2020
Upright, Yi Zhou
Yi’s final project Upright is a lightweight, wearable system for patients with lower back pain to track and correct their sitting posture. By combining science, engineering, fashion design and fine art, and using physical properties of optical fibre sensors (OFS) and body-mapped geometric construction, Yi has developed textile wearables for enhanced user experience. 

5. Wenwen Fan, MA/MSc Global Innovation Design 

Wenwen Fan, The Unmentioned, 2020
The Unmentioned, Wenwen Fan
The Unmentioned is an immersive AR experience that aims to help educate caregivers and the general public about the problems faced by people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Wenwen’s AR landscape provides participants with the chance to experience the difficulties and anxieties of an Alzheimer’s patient in everyday life. Users take the place of an old man living with Alzheimer’s disease and are forced to experience a range of symptoms caused by the disease, such as perception failure and visual distortions. This experience aims to improve our empathy and understanding of those suffering with Alzheimer’s so that we are better equipped to care for them.

6. Sarah Willemart, MA Design Products 

Sarah Willemart, Familia, 2020
Familia, Sarah Willemart
FAMILIA is a collection of objects aiming to restore dignity to seniors. Sarah Willemart’s designs appear as everyday objects that also provide subtle functionalities responding to elderly challenges, such as memory loss and health issues to vision damage and isolation. The FAMILIA collection consists of three objects: a cuckoo clock that behaves as a pill dispenser, a table lamp that once grabbed becomes a luminous magnifying glass and a connected mirror displaying pictures of our loved ones.

7. Vidyut Naidu, MA Intelligent Mobility 

Vidyut Naidu, Silverback, 2020
Silverback, Vidyut Naidu
Disabilities account for roughly 38 percent of the world and have become an increasingly overlooked demographic group in mobility design. Vidyut has designed Silverback, a vehicle that provides a thrill seeking experience and allows the user to be empowered to be independent.

8. Adalberto Lonardi, MA Interior Design 

Alberto Lonardi, The United Generations, 2020
The United Generations, Alberto Lonardi
Alberto’s final project proposes a return to the Arcadian archetype, where community, sustainability, and simplicity are the assets for a prosperous living. The United Generations proposes a vision to create a thriving community of all ages that celebrates the advantages of shared resources. It is a domestic and public scheme where the residents and the community are engaged through activities and events that combine social, economic, and cultural values contributing to the wellness and the reconnection of old and new generations.

9. Constanza Valderrama, MA Photography  

Constanza Valderrama, Grandmother Exercise 1 (left), Grandmother Exercise 2 (right), 2020
Grandmother Exercise 1 (left), Grandmother Exercise 2 (right), Constanza Valderrama
Constanza Valderrama is a Chilean artist who explores the material properties with which photographic images intertwine, a process that she refers to as ‘photographic incarnations’. 

Constanza’s choice of materials – post-it notes and natural linen – to create large-format portraits of her deceased grandmother, serve as both reminders of the fragility of memory and respond to the violent erasure of memory caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. 

10. Ruo Hsin Wu, MA Visual Communication 

https://2020.rca.ac.uk/students/jo-hsin-wu

Ruo Hsin Wu, The Sound of Memory (still), 2020
The Sound of Memory (still), Ruo Hsin Wu
The Sound of Memory, is an animation by Ruo Hsin Wu that explores issues around dementia based on her own childhood memories. It aims to re-examine meanings of time, perception, and relationships with physical surroundings for those who suffer with dementia by weaving fragments of memory and poetic observations of everyday details with research into dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. 


Head to RCA2020 to see more from our graduates.