With graduate shows now up and running around the country, featuring hot new UK design talent, we thought it would be an opportune moment to shout about some of the fantastic young designers we worked with in the 2015/16 academic year through our Design Academy programme. Join Bel Reed, our Education and Skills programme manager, as she takes us on a tour of the impressive design talent who have helped to shape Design Academy in its first year.

We delivered our pilot Design Academy programme to four pioneering universities between November 2015 and March 2016. Teams of students from each university worked in cross-disciplinary groups to tackle real-world challenges drawn from a live Design Council programme – Design for Care – and addressed two of its key themes: “Supporting self-reliance” and “Strengthening civic society”.

At the end of each of their programmes, the multidisciplinary teams from each university pitched their project ideas to a panel of industry experts. One team from each university received a special commendation in recognition of how they’d applied and communicated their strategic design skills and evidenced their collaborative team working to the panel.

Manchester Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University were the trailblazers, being the first university to go through the full Design Academy programme. Judges on pitching day included representatives from IBM, Cabinet Office, ShiftMS and Design Council. However, judges were split in their final decision – one team impressed in terms of process and presentation while another team shone with their final idea. In the end we agreed to two winners:

Challenge A: How might people be able to stay independent for as long as possible? 

Team: Madeleine Dann, Rachel McMahon, Ellie Williams, Elen Hughes 

This teams’ solution addressing the issue of enabling people to stay independent for as long as possible was to create a Garden Allotment scheme. The idea was that older people with gardens they could no longer maintain were offered as a community allotment to local families, keen for a bit of green space, but who didn’t want to wait years for a local authority allotment. 

Challenge B: How might the experience of transitioning through care stages be improved?

Team: Chelsea Thorniley, Catherine Player, Alexandra Brown, Chelsey Roberts

This team recognised that a crucial care stage for older people was the transition from their own home to a care home. They looked at the subtleties around this that could help make that transition a little smoother. They honed in on “the small things” as evidenced by their photography of older people’s homes above, whilst also thinking about the bigger picture in terms of opportunities for potential care home residents to “try before you buy”.

University of Portsmouth

Challenge: How might the experience of transitioning through care stages be improved?

Team: Lauren Chivers, Zoe Fouracre, Adora Holcroft, Zoe Kittow, Jay Ma

Students from the University of Portsmouth showcased a range of ideas from a Food Bank Help Box to an App to help support MS sufferers and their families manage the condition together. The winning team also looked at the question of transitioning through care stages, but this time from pre to post diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. They recognised, through employing strategic design techniques, that diagnosis and coping with the day-to-day is a key time for support. One of the panel, Jon Lunn from Mercer, commented that this is an area his company are currently trying to tackle: “the team today sparked great ideas for me to take back into my world”.

The team went through a very thorough process, identifying insights and key design opportunities, with potential solutions ranging from a care package box to a card that children diagnosed with diabetes could carry with them to provide instructions to others if insulin needs to be injected in an emergency.

Nottingham Trent University 

Challenge: How might we support local services to be more aware of each other and signpost citizens?

Team: Kate Howells, Emma Tobin, Kathryn Bell, Rebecca Lester

Key to the team’s success was a clear and concise narrative and presentation that clearly related their journey to Design Council's Double Diamond framework. Through their research they identified that depression in young men at universities is increasing at a rapid rate and therefore explored the services on offer from the university to support mental wellbeing. The team discovered there were a number of reasons why students weren’t aware of the services provided by the university and that, even if they were aware, they weren’t necessarily user friendly.  

Norwich University of the Arts

Challenge: How might the experience of transitioning through care stages be improved?

Team: Eve Meyerowitz, Shona Morris, Nikhi Kanbi

The winning team at Norwich University of the Arts looked at the issue of transitioning from the perspective of people moving from homelessness into hostels or temporary accommodation. The judges were impressed that the team chose to tackle such a complex and relatively unknown issue. The team found it difficult to get direct contact with users, but were tenacious and managed to speak to both hostel managers/staff and hostel residents.

Through their research they identified that a key moment of frustration was around the paperwork that staff and residents had to fill in. This was particularly challenging if residents had low levels of literacy and could lead to residents unable to complete the paperwork and therefore unable to take advantage of the accommodation on offer.

Join us at New Designers 

Come and join us to talk more about Design Academy in person at New Designers on Thursday 7 July 2016.  We can also offer a ticket discount (£10.50 instead of £16) for those who quote the code NDDESIGNCOUNCIL when purchasing your ticket on the door. Hope to see you there!

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