RSA relaunches Student Design Awards

The Royal Society of Arts is relaunching its Design Directions awards under its former title of the RSA Student Design Awards.

Emily Campbell, director of design at the RSA, says the relaunch is part of a strategy to enhance the ’crafts and tools’ of design. The RSA Student Design Awards started life as an industrial bursaries scheme in the 1920s and have developed to cover service innovation and socially inclusive design.

Campbell says, ’Really, we’ve got to the stage where we’ve got to look at a definition of what design is.’ She adds, ’Innovation and inclusiveness have swept design up in their multidisciplinary embrace, while the crafts and tools that traditionally constituted design have become less distinct.’

Campbell says that prior to the relaunch, the RSA reviewed the awards with stakeholders including design tutors, Royal Designers and previous award winners. The changes, Campbell says, will see the language of the briefs simplified, as well as the introduction of a ’scope’ section that makes it clear that product design is tangible as a service solution.

In addition, the judging criteria have been clarified as design craft, ingenuity, insight, communication and social benefit. Guidelines have been given with respect of students’ documentation of the process, and the deadline for entries has been extended.

The briefs for 2010-11 aim to tackle social issues: Make Something Disappear and Double- Duty Devices cover sustainability; My Favourite Subject deals with young people; Modern Age deals with older people; Giving and Getting looks at altruism and charity; Difficult Conversations deals with communication; and the Royal Mail Stamp brief deals with issues around public design.

The Mind the Gap brief, about ageing and inter-generational relationships, was published in April, targeted at postgraduate students and with a December deadline. The remaining briefs will launch on 21 September, when the RSA will hold a debate on design education which will feature Politechnico di Milano Professor of Innovation Management Roberto Verganti, Design Council national programme director for public services by design Ellie Runcie, and Royal Designer for Industry Sam Hecht.

The speakers will debate the question ’What should we be teaching professional designers today?’ Last year’s Design Directions competition saw almost 700 entries across 13 briefs. Past winners of the awards include Apple’s Jonathan Ive, Ideo co-founder Bill Moggridge and fashion
designer Betty Jackson.

Design & Society manifesto

  • Royal Society of Arts director of design Emily Campbell (pictured below) launched the organisation’s Design & Society manifesto in July 2009
  • The Student Awards were identified as one of the key strands in the manifesto, alongside Designing & Opening Minds and Design and Behaviour Change
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