MDes Design Innovation & Citizenship

6 students

Every year we say ‘there’s never been a more important time to study Design Innovation’. This year, that’s especially true.

Watching the response of students to unfolding events has been humbling; even though we have all faced innumerable personal difficulties and frustrations, our students have shown a remarkable stoicism and camaraderie, keeping up a sense of community and mutual support that ensured everybody got through relatively unscathed.

Design Innovation has always been a programme focused on human-centred design – looking at the way the world works and identifying ways it might be better, either through big systemic changes or small interventions that help individuals: the future of work and education, the impact of social isolation, the need for better urban transport, attitudes to end of life care, the role of the city environment on mental health and physical wellbeing….

These are just some of the topics that became Masters projects – 12-week independent explorations of the world at a human and individual scale.  And along the way, students have become masters of Zoom and Miro, comfortable conducting conversations and co-designing at a distance, and making use of whatever space was available to them.

To some extent, the outcomes of these projects are irrelevant (though they really are excellent, as you’ll see). Being a designer and an innovator is not just a matter of a skillset but of a mindset– something very difficult to assess or to teach. And even though the projects developed by this year’s students are equal to those of past cohorts in terms of quality of thinking, insights, and ingenuity, the thing that makes this generation of graduates truly outstanding is the resilience, the mutual support, the empathy, and the good humour they have displayed throughout. It has been a pleasure to teach them and to learn from them. We couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve achieved and to show it to the world via this digital showcase.

So yes, there has never been a more important time to study design innovation, and there’s never been a more important time to employ innovative designers of the sort you’ll see here in these five programmes. Where we see problems, they see possibilities. And that’s just what we need right now.

from The Crichton Trust’s Nutritious Earth

from The Crichton Trust’s Nutritious Earth

from The Crichton Trust’s Nutritious Earth

from The Crichton Trust’s Nutritious Earth

from The Crichton Trust’s Nutritious Earth

The image is a paper cut artwork that looks layered and tactile. If you were to run your hands over it in real life you would feel at its centre a grouping of 5 cut out adult characters and one child. The cut out characters depict a group of marginalized UK Citizens at the core of the image. Two are seated in their wheelchairs. One stands behind wearing a hijab. The central character is mid - sign, signing ‘welcome’ in British Sign Language. If you are fluent in BSL you might recognize what she is saying more intimately than someone unfamiliar with the language. The last character is wrapped in a duvet with fluffy slippers on their feet clearly navigating fatigue. Behind them is a larger paper cut out of a shell. The shells spiral pattern is also cut out and coils outward from the group at it's centre. If experiencing the artwork in situ you would be able to touch the cut out spiral moving out from the characters in the centre around and out until you are touching the outer edge of the shell. I discuss the meaning of this image further within the body of text for my projects which I understand your screen reader should detect as you navigate my page and projects. Without the accompanying projects and text I hope you can find your own artistic meaning for the tactile artwork as a stand alone piece. Enabling folks to come to their own conclusions about what it means is why I have chosen this artwork as the feature image on my page.
A depiction of being spoken to by the Emerging Community Persona devised and created out of shared experience. Text reads 'Hi, How are you doing today? Recent times have been a lot, we aren't here to pretend they haven't. How is life treating you at the moment?'

from Keeping Up with the Future: Health & Citizenship Post-Pandemic Times

Text reads - Household care bubbles don't draw the same boundaries as borders. There is a drawn depiction of a video call from Somalia to the UK. A daughter and mother discuss the care of their grandmother/mother.

from Keeping Up with the Future: Health & Citizenship Post-Pandemic Times

from Sense Making: Exploring the Accessible Permaculture Garden

Written text depicting the voice of the Emerging Community Persona reads: 'Before we start - I just wanted to check that you up for this right now? Because yes we are always busy but if you need go to the loo, then please go pee! /attend to your catheter/ your period. It's ok to read this afterwards. Your wellbeing and comfort comes first'.

from Keeping Up with the Future: Health & Citizenship Post-Pandemic Times

A design iteration flow chart map. The first image shows unhealthy leaves in the garden. The second shows a visual nutrient guide for unhealthy plants. The third depicts information to be read aloud by a screen reader or audio guide ' Tactile Observations for Older Leaf Tip Burn: Leaves feel gnarled, rough and crisp to touch at the tips. Try adding companion  plants that accumulate:  Nitrogen & Zinc' The fourth image depicts a prototype of a tactile audio manual with inbuilt speaker. This also has scope to be compatible in future iterations with the RNIB tactile MP3 player or Connect Radio Show.

from Sense Making: Exploring the Accessible Permaculture Garden

Images showing interactions with the Active Travel Companion

from Active Travel Companion

from Active Travel Companion

from Active Travel Companion

from Active Travel Companion

from Active Travel Companion

from Walking With Care

from Walking With Care

from Reimagining Rehabilitation for Post-Pandemic Prisons

from Reimagining Rehabilitation for Post-Pandemic Prisons

from Reimagining Rehabilitation for Post-Pandemic Prisons

from Phronopolis

from Phronopolis

from Dancing with the Past: Connecting Communities Across Time

from Dancing with the Past: Connecting Communities Across Time

from Phronopolis

from Inter–Bodies. Exploring Gendered (Un)safety Through Design

from Inter–Bodies. Exploring Gendered (Un)safety Through Design

from Inter–Bodies. Exploring Gendered (Un)safety Through Design

from Inter–Bodies. Exploring Gendered (Un)safety Through Design

from Protest Cookbook