RCA students take inclusive approach for our Future Selves

Ten students of the Royal College of Art have shared £9000 prize money as part of the 2005 Design for our Future Selves Awards, a scheme to encourage socially aware designs.

Winning ideas include a ‘sunlight table’ that uses fibre optics to improve the office environment, a rocking teapot that makes pouring easier and an urban vehicle designed for older drivers.

Fifty-seven students were shortlisted with a brief to use an architecture, design or communication project to address a social issue or engage with a particular social group in order to improve independence, mobility, health or working life.

The awards are organised by the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Research Centre, which specialises in developing and promoting inclusive design. In addition to Future Selves, the HHRC collaborates with the Design Business Association on its Design Challenge, tasking professional designers with producing inclusive design solutions (DW 10 February).

‘With the students we take a much looser approach, rather than bang the drum for old and disabled people,’ explains Professor Jeremy Myerson, co-director of the HHRC. ‘It is much more about change and our future selves; a softer approach to these issues than we take with professional designers.’

The scheme offered nine prizes of £1000, distributed across ten winners – two took a joint first prize.

A personal award was given by Helen Hamlyn of the Helen Hamlyn Foundation to Peter Brewin and Will Crawford for their Concrete Canvas, a system to provide hardened emergency shelters in disaster relief areas. Landscape Keys, a computer keypad for the visually impaired by product designer Bo-Young Jung, won the annual Snowdon Award for Disability Projects.

‘We want the centre’s work to be worthwhile, not just worthy,’ adds Myerson. ‘I hope some of the student winners will go on to be research associates, and from there they may become professional designers, possibly members of the DBA itself and taking part in the Design Challenge.’

The Design for our Future Selves Awards were initiated under the name Designage Competition by the Helen Hamlyn Foundation in 1992.

FUTURE SELVES AWARDS WINNERS (winning £1000 each)

Design Products

• The Snowdon Award for Disability Projects – Landscape Keys by Bo-Young Jung

• Nottingham Rehab Supplies Award for Independent Living – Landscape Keys by Bo-Young Jung

Industrial Design Engineering

• Mobility Choice Award for Independent Mobility – Car:go by Andy Nias

• Design for Health and Patient Safety Award (joint first prize of £500) – Obstetric Forceps by Peter D’Alessandro (Design Products) and Humanising Incubators by Sally Halls

• Big Idea Award for Communication – Insight: Home Use Smear Test by Maja Kecman

• The Helen Hamlyn Award for Creativity – Concrete Canvas by Peter Brewin and Will Crawford

Vehicle Design

• Future Foundation Award for Future Thinking – User Friendly by Michael Castellana

Interaction Design

• GMW Award for Working Life – Light Play by Anab Jain and Stuart Wood

Ceramics & Glass

• Help the Aged Award for Independent Living – Rocking Teapot by Lucy Whiting

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