Jony Ive and Prince Charles partner on sustainable initiative Terra Carta Design Lab

The design lab will invite students from the Royal College of Art to propose creative solutions for the climate crisis.

Designer Sir Jony Ive, Prince Charles and the Royal College of Art (RCA) have launched the Terra Carta Design Lab which invites students to develop “credible and sustainable solutions” to the climate crisis.

The initiative is open now to RCA students across its four schools; architecture, arts and humanities, communication, and design.

The project is set to include emerging architects, designers, scientists, engineers as well as writers and artists. They will also be joined by recent RCA graduates.

Ive, former chief design officer at Apple, says that the project is a “visionary and imaginative way of helping address the world’s increasingly urgent environmental problems”.

“Often the biggest challenges demand the most ingenious, most creative thinking,” he adds.

The design lab is part of Prince Charles’ recently-launched environmental network Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI). It is distinct from Ive’s design studio LoveFrom.

Small designs with big impact


Projects should be “high-pact, low cost”, SMI says. The ambition is to “create small designs that can make a big impact for the world’s transition to a sustainable future,” it explains.

Among potential areas of development, SMI lists the restoration of biodiversity, reduction in greenhouse gases and exploration of new economic and social models that align people more closely with the environment.

Recent projects from RCA graduates have included a device from the Tyre Collective which seeks to reduce microplastic emissions from car tyres. Another RCA-led project, Zelp, aims to cut the amount of methane produced by cattle.

During the first round, projects will be assessed by the RCA’s academic staff. A final shortlist of 16 will be judged by a jury including Prince Charles, and representatives from the new design lab.

The Tyre Collective

This shortlist will be announced during the UN’s annual climate change conference COP26, which takes place in November.

In 2022, the final selection of designers will have the opportunity to be mentored by Ive to progress their project and be introduced to industry leaders from SMI. They will also be given financial support to help make their vision a reality.

Terra Carta

Prince Charles announced the launch of Terra Carta in January 2021, a charter which aims to make sustainability a focus for the private sector.

According to the charter’s website, it seeks to provide a “roadmap to 2030 for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future”.

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