The Grand Challenge 2020/21: Design for Safety asked students to develop design responses that explore, challenge or improve the practice of Design for Safety.
At a glance
- The Grand Challenge is a unique and innovative learning experience for MA students in the School of Design.
- 2020/21 saw the RCA’s School of Design continue their partnership with Logitech and invited students to 'Design for Safety'.
- Interdisciplinary teams of students from across the School of Design worked together to respond to one of seven sub-themes: Leadership, Care, Next Generation Interaction, Futures, Truth, Health and Resilience.
“The RCA Grand Challenge is an important strategic project in the School of Design focussing on multidisciplinary approaches to new design thinking. It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, challenges students to think beyond their current methods, and inspires innovative and tangible responses to large scale global issues.”Dean of the School of Design
Logitech is a Swiss manufacturer of computer peripherals and software, and is working with the RCA and other partners to explore the future of human capability and performance.
Logitech’s CEO, Bracken Darrell, describes the company as ‘a "third-generation" design company, which sees design in every aspect of the company, changing everything constantly with the goal of improving the user’s experience’.
The RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21 was sponsored by Logitech.
With contributors from: BBC, CERN, UNDP, Gallup, Unreal Engine, Resilience Shift, World Health Organisation (WHO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), Elrha / Humanitarian Innovation Fund, vHM Design Futures, Foresight Factory.
The 2020/21 Grand Challenge
The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the greatest safety design problems of our time. It has exposed major flaws in a wide range of our capabilities for dealing with human safety; ranging from political governance, confidence in communications, supply lines and business models to human resilience.
The RCA Grand Challenge 2020/21: Design for Safety encouraged students to treat the pandemic as a specific, contemporary problem and find solutions to help us move forward and unlock potential and opportunities.
The teams worked under one of seven sub-themes of Design for Safety: Leadership, Care, Next Generation Interaction, Futures, Truth, Health and Resilience.
- In November 2020, 388 postgraduate designers across all disciplines in the School of Design were set the challenge of improving the practice, culture, principles and ethics of Design for Safety.
- Students worked in 77 interdisciplinary teams globally dispersed in 50 countries, and came together online to create a high-capacity, world-class design collective.
- Over a four-week period, the teams devoted around 64,000 hours (35.2 years) of creative capital to this challenge, working alongside over 20 academics in the ultimate design think-tank.
The winning projects
From 77 projects a shortlist was created reflecting the seven sub-themes: Leadership, Care, Next Generation Interaction, Futures, Truth, Health and Resilience.
These finalists had the opportunity to further develop their ideas, before presenting them to a panel of judges. Three prizes of £2,500 were awarded to the projects that best met the following criteria: ‘Is there magic?’, ‘Smartest Innovation’ and ‘Biggest potential impact’.
The winning projects were:
The Yellow Box
The Yellow Box is a unified, universal public mental health safety infrastructure which includes education, signage, behavioural nudges, digital experiences and crisis response. It provides a set of tools to deal with mental and emotional challenges that can be learnt as a child and put to use throughout life.
An additional prize of £1,000 for best narrative was also awarded to The Yellow Box.
Students: Alicia (Lissy) Hatfield (MA Textiles), Louise Skajem (MA/MSc Global Innovation Design), Cheng Chang (MA Design Products), Joe Pacal (MA/MSc Global Innovation Design), Swathi Muralidharan (MA Service Design).
Through the combination of an app, female drivers and ticketing regulation MOWO aims to make buses a safer environment for women travelling to and from their jobs in Lima, Peru, where a high proportion of women experience sexual assault on public transport.
Students: Zhuyin Xu (MA Textiles), Kelly Holder (MA Intelligent Mobility), Georgia Mackenzie (MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering), Ilayda Kal (MA/MSc Global Innovation Design), Kaelan O'Neill (MA Fashion)
Inaya introduces celebration as a fundamental part of care systems by integrating it into the medical journey of the patient. Through a not for profit or charity model, the multi-layered design solution incorporates celebration into care through a range of products and services.
Students: Suzanna James (MA Textiles), Célia Marchessaux (MA Design Products), Emre Kayganacı (MA/MSc Innovation Design Engineering), Shruti Agerwala (MA Service Design), Justin Tsang (MA Intelligent Mobility)
Why did Logitech work with the RCA?
With both parties noting clear streams of alignment in both their ethos and their strategic goals, Logitech have been working in partnership with the RCA since 2018 – including being a major donor to the College’s GenerationRCA campaign.
A number of RCA alumni work in Logitech’s design teams – including the company’s Chief Design Officer, Alastair Curtis. With the mutual goal of applying a high level of design thinking to the exploration of the future enhancement of human capability, RCA School of Design alumni worked directly with current students to really push the concept of this Grand Challenge to the extreme.
“The RCA Grand Challenge is such an important project for me personally, but also for Logitech. The fact that we get students from so many different disciplines working together, collaborating and learning from each other’s ways of thinking is so important. There were some real stand out projects, not necessarily because of the proposed solution, but in terms of the depth of research and thinking behind them. A strong learning curve for any designer is realising that the quality of your research and your thinking is critical, because you can then find multiple solutions around that.”Chief Design Officer, Logitech and RCA alumnus (MA Industrial Design Engineering)
“The students had just four weeks to come together remotely, get to know one another for the first time, and creatively come up with ways to exchange ideas. As a creative process it’s logistically challenging right from day one, which makes what they achieved extremely impressive. Going into the future, a lot of the teams will want to continue working together across disciplines. In the School of Design students developing these types of networks, skillsets and experience are all vital attributes to becoming a truly innovative designer in a global context.”Dean of the School of Design