5 important things that happened in design this week

From a new Netflix series on design to a drop in students taking design at university – the important design news from the last seven days.

We went behind the scenes of the new Netflix series celebrating design

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Over the last few years, design has become a greater part of mainstream culture – the Design Museum now sits in a prime position on London’s Kensington High Street at three times the size of its last building, and design festivals and exhibitions have grown in number and size.

Another telling sign of a move to a more consumer audience is streaming site Netflix’s series Abstract: The Art of Design, which is going to be delving into the personalities and processes of some prolific designers, including Pentagram partner Paula Scher and architect Bjarke Ingels.

This week, we spoke to co-creator of the documentary Dave O’Connor about what people can expect from the series. Read our full interview here.

The number of students taking on creative subjects at university dropped

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The latest figures from UCAS show that 30,000 fewer students have applied to university across all subjects in the UK this year compared to 2016 – and creative subjects have been hit particularly hard.

Although creative arts and design is still one of the most popular subject areas at university according to UCAS – behind only medicine, biological sciences and business studies – over half of the overall drop in students has come from this group, which has lost 17,000 potential applicants this year.

We spoke to designers and academics about why they think this has happened, and they told us significant causes could be the sharp increase in tuition fees, a loss of EU students following the Brexit vote, and the Conservative Government’s recent emphasis on science, maths and technology.

A student loan debt of £30,000 could be deterring students from tackling university, and instead encouraging them to take cheaper, shorter routes into the industry, one designer suggests.

Read our full piece on the decrease of art and design university applications here.

Morag Myerscough transformed Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Artfelt Sheffield Children's Hospital

Designer Morag Myerscough is known for her bright, vibrant pattern designs used across public art spaces ranging from installations on London’s Southbank to school gardens and hospital wards.

Her latest project is a transformation of Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s new wing, where she’s filled the in-patient bedrooms and six wards with wall designs.

The patterns were created in collaboration with clinicians, patients and their families. Although clinicians were wary at first about the intensity of bright colours in wards, patients and their families were overwhelmingly in favour of brightening up the bare walls.

“Patient feedback was unbelievable,” says Myerscough. “98% said they didn’t want non-descript bedrooms, they wanted them to be joyous.”

Myerscough created four different wall designs of varying degrees of brightness for the in-patient bedrooms, from a multi-coloured concept to a calmer, pale blue one for children who have conditions like autism. A fifth design has been used across the six wards in the wing.

Myerscough worked with Artfelt on the project, and hopes that the new designs will help create a more uplifting environment for staff as well as patients.

Calvin Klein unveiled a new logo with mixed reviews

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Fashion label Calvin Klein (CK) unveiled a new logo this week on Instagram, which has been co-designed by the brand’s chief creative officer Raf Simons and Peter Saville. Although it’s not drastic, it has stirred a lot of debate online.

The new logo has kept its purely typographic form, but is now all-caps. It is still black and sans-serif, but has tighter kerning between letters.

It aims to “return” the logo “to the spirit of the original”, according to CK, and pay homage to the “foundations of the fashion house”, which launched in 1968.

Feedback has been varied, with comments on CK’s Instagram page ranging from “Stunning, clean, elegant and considered – true graphic design”, to “You don’t need to be a graphic designer to do something like this”.

Whether CK fans think the new logo is a subtle masterpiece or a waste of design resources, fashion brands are known for retaining original branding and erring on the side of caution when it comes to change.

The contraception dispensary system was redesigned

Colorful oral contraceptive pill both 21 and 28 tablets strips.

For many people, walking into a sexual health clinic waiting room can be an awkward experience.

Online sexual health service SH:24 launched last year to alleviate the stress people can feel when attending real-life appointments, by allowing them to self-test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from the comfort of their homes.

Now, SH:24 is piloting an order-to-your-door contraception service for women, which allows them to order the pill online and receive it within 24 hours.

It has been co-designed with clinicians and patients, and patients fill out a risk assessment form online, which “mimics” all the questions that a doctor would ask in-clinic, says Chris Howroyd, who headed up the service design.

The system – using “intelligent logic”, says SH:24 – then decides whether a person is suitable to receive the pill. If they are, the form gets vetted by a doctor, who has to sign a prescription before it is then sent out to the patient. If the form shows medical risks, a doctor or nurse will call the patient up to discuss options.

While the service aims to be both a cost-saving and convenience method for both clinicians and patients – saving time and money spent on appointments – it brings into question automation of certain jobs which have until now been performed by a human, and sits in a strange realm between “patient” and “service user”.

But Dr Paula Baraitser, who led the project, thinks online services such as this will help to “empower” patients to speak about their sexual health, making it easier and more anonymous than a face-to-face visit.

The trial is currently ongoing in London boroughs Lambeth and Southwark. SH:24 hopes to roll it out nationwide.


Got a design story? Get in touch sarah.dawood@centaurmedia.com.

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