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Methods Labs 2008

Workshop 1
11-12 November 2008, Royal College of Art

The first Methods Lab was supported by RCA design departments including Communication Art & Design, Design Products, Design Interactions and Textiles. Over a two-day period the teams worked together to understanding the methodology of inclusive design and develop design proposals, which were presented at the end of day two.

The process
The workshop brought together students, tutors and disabled artists and designers. Each team consisted of RCA students led by an RCA design tutor or graduate working with a disabled creative partner.

The brief
'As a designer, communicator, maker or artist, collaborate with your team members to develop a design proposal that improves aspects of how we access information in urban lives. Your proposal should demonstrate a combination of social need, creative design thinking and user research.'

The proposals

  • Team 1: An audio device for museum and gallery visitors to access exhibit information. It can be used when walking and is controlled by rotation. An additional function is that visitors can record comments.
  • Team 2: Rethinking the bus stop – the team decided to open a discussion by leaving questions about how we can place information in our environment in places such as bus stops.
  • Team 3: Lodestone – an interface that provides extra information for directions at ground level. This can benefit people of varying abilities such as wheelchair-users, older people and children.
  • Team 4: Fragile – a game that aims to raise awareness of disabilities by encouraging people to empathise through their experience.


Workshop 2
23-24 February 2009, Royal College of Art

The second Methods Lab focused on living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Four student teams drawn from across the Royal College of Art developed design concepts with  disabled creative partner. The event was supported by CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) and was in partnership with SHIFT.MS and Enabled by Design.

The process
This two-day intensive programme brought together students, tutors and people with MS as creative partners. Each team consisted of RCA students and was led by an RCA design tutor working with a creative partner.

The brief
‘Collaborate with your team members and develop a design proposal that improves our quality of life. Through working with your creative partner to draw inspiration from their situation and lifestyle and use the insights they give to innovate through inclusive design.'

The proposals
The results were four proposals presented by the four teams. All the teams were asked to introduce their team members and to explain their findings about MS before introducing their design ideas. They were also asked to suggest applications for the ideas.

  • Team 1: 'Memory Scarf' is a digital diary and navigating device for use in a crowd. It is an interactive textile that is also a personal accessory and can express emotions silently.
  • Team 2: A series of technological design ideas to help people to cope with visual impairment in an urban environment:
    – Bus Stop Hailing System: allows people to hail their bus by pushing a button to let bus drivers know their needs
    – Mobile Alert System: assists passengers to identify the correct stop during the bus journey
    – Bi-Zoomicals: sunglasses with built-in magnifying glasses that can zoom-in and are controlled using bluetooth technology.

  • Team 3: 'Inreach: Exercise in Disguise' a website that aims to encourage people to associate everyday activities with repetitive exercises, for example, mixing gardening with exercise. Creative diagrams explain how our bodies move and users can develop tactics to develop body movements. The website is also a platform for people to share information on how to exercise.
  • Team 4: Rethinks the ultimate shopping experience in supermarkets by introducing a system that contains 'Fresh Produce Pods'. Instead of carrying heavy goods around, customers can select the products by using a personal scanner and sending them to the cashier using an overhead conveyor system. A personal carrier bag was designed to use with this new shopping experience.