Inclusive responses win through at RSA awards

A nightclub for the visually impaired and bathrooms for the disabled were among the winning designs in this year’s Royal Society of Arts Student Design Award.

Over 2000 students responded to a total of 28 design briefs, encompassing project areas from future homes to postage stamps and packaging. Winning entries highlighted the growing need for design across sectors to be set within the context of inclusiveness.

Katie Wilson, who was a nurse before going on to study design at Napier University, created the winning entry to the Ministry of Freedom brief. The challenge was to design a nightclub that would include the dancefloor, bar and chill-out spaces found in typical nightclubs, yet be sensitive to a range of disabilities, including sensory impairments.

Wilson says she found her nursing experience useful in creating her design, which included a ‘floating’ red entrance ramp to be used by all clubbers and not just wheelchair users.

‘I could relate to the difficulties people in a wheelchair have and I wanted to make it attractive for everyone as well as functional,’ Wilson explains.

Keigo Harada’s winning solution in the Future Homes category, designed to be accessible by ‘people from seven to 70 years old’, was created with inclusiveness as a key criteria.

‘I basically took everything that people hated out of the bathroom and started from scratch with just the water,’ he explains.

Harada’s shower design is a fountain with controls on the floor. Water projects upward from a disc on the floor, removing the need for a shower curtain and creating a barrier to keep the warmth in.

Clockwork Voice, Nym Jethwa’s winning response to the Interactive Media brief, considers the needs of the visually impaired in accessing Web and Intranet services, particularly in colleges and schools.

Clockwork Voice uses software with multimedia capabilities to allow aural communication through digitised speech. Jethwa says he is interested in the way that technology can ‘enable people to communicate in previously impossible ways’.

A brief that asked students to respond to the needs, aspirations and capabilities of older people inspired Matthew Fiddimore of Nottingham Trent University to develop the i-site home security system. The i-site replaces ‘unpopular’ keypads and access codes with ‘logical’ buttons and dials, says Fiddimore.

‘I was interested in devices that had been neglected,’ he explains. ‘I found a lot of people didn’t like the key pads in security systems and that the human interface had been neglected.’

Andrew Gillion, winner of the Museum brief turned the tables on inclusiveness to create an exhibition that enables everyone to understand the challenges of living with a disability. His exhibition, Red, aims to put people with normal sensory capabilities into the place of people who have a different notion of the colour red.

Colour blindness, autism and synaesthesia, three conditions affected differently by the colour, are explored through video imagery, sound and tactile exhibits.

This year’s judges included fashion designer Mary Quant, Conran & Partners creative director Sebastian Conran and Pentagram partner Kenneth Grange.

All work will be on display in the RSA Student Design Awards Online Exhibition from 26 May, at www.rsa-design.net and at the British Design & Art Direction Bloodbank website, www.dandad. org/bloodbank.

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