A £3m grant has been awarded by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation to its eponymous research centre at the Royal College of Art. The grant is the largest single donation in the RCA’s history, according to a spokeswoman for the college.
The grant will allow the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre to undertake longer-term, socially inclusive design projects across a broader range of industries. It is also hoping to involve more RCA graduates on individual projects, says HHRC co-director Jeremy Myerson.
Until now, projects have been about one year in length, but could now be extended to around three or four years, Myerson adds.
The centre’s Research Associates Programme has already matched RCA design graduates with organisations such as Levi Strauss, Dyson, Ford and BAA.
Part of the HHRC’s plans include developing its relationship with the design Business Association. Myerson hopes to identify sectors such as healthcare that could benefit from ‘better design’. The DBA and the research centre match consultancies with companies in that sector [on HHRC projects]. ‘We want to be a resource for the entire industry, and use our knowledge of packaging design in particular as catalyst for raising design standards,’ says Myerson.
‘It is good news for the RCA, too. We can now think long-term and work on bigger, more wide-ranging schemes,’ he adds.
The research centre also hopes to expand its research on aging populations to create an entire resource on socially inclusive design available to consultancies.
The centre was set up in 1999 for a three-year ‘pathfinder’ programme of collaboration with industry, design professionals and social-change researchers.
Based within the RCA, it incorporates a multidisciplinary design research programme that aims to pioneer socially inclusive projects.
RCA rector Professor Sir Christopher Frayling says, ‘If attitudes are to change within the design world as well, it is vital our students take [Helen Hamlyn’s] vision of inclusive design into their chosen field.’