Using design to solve problems and improve our lives

Competing across the schools

RSA Pupil Design Awards is a new programme based on the RSA Student Design Awards, a 90 year old competition aimed at university students.  We believe that design is about more than making beautiful things. Design can be used to solve problems and improve our lives and the lives of others.  The RSA Pupil Design Awards is a competition in using design skills to make a positive change.

In 2014, students from the RSA Academies took part in the very first RSA Pupil Design Awards programme. The students could choose to work on the following 4 briefs:  Improve a daily journey, Join up the Generations, Attitudes to water, The Community Supermarket.

Project 1: Improve a Daily Journey

The daily journey to and from school or work is a necessary evil in most of our lives. British commuters have the longest daily journeys in Europe, with the average trip taking 45 minutes. Regular journeys can be tiring and stressful. How can we make the daily journey a high-point of the day?

Project 2: Join Up the Generations

Many young people don’t grow up living close to their grandparents, and often don’t have any other contact with older people on a regular basis. This means that old and young don’t often know much about each others generations. This can cause negative stereotypes and make mixing between generations difficult. It’s important to remember that all generations have valuable skills and knowledge to share with each other. So how can we bring together young and old? This could be through shared interests or needs, or learning from one another. How can what you design benefit both generations?

Project 3: Attitudes to Water

Water is a precious resource that many of us take for granted. In many developing countries, the average daily water use per person is 20 litres. In the UK it is a huge 153 litres. With the UK’s population predicted to grow by 10 million over the next 20 years, the demand for water will increase, putting pressure on the amount of clean processed water we have. How can we encourage people to change their behaviour and value our water more?

Project 4: The Community Supermarket

Food shopping has changed a lot over the past century. Small, local, independent shops which formed the heart of communities have been replaced by supermarkets – your one
stop convenience shop. While supermarkets make life easier for many, they mean that a lot shoppers often don’t know where food comes from or how it’s made. Self-service checkouts mean that you can do your shopping without speaking to anyone. How can supermarkets engage with local people and be a more important part of the community?

Submissions were judged in July 2014 by

  • Angus Montgomery, Editor of Design Week
  • RDI Robin Levien
  • Sevra Davis, Manager of the RSA Student Design Awards
  • Geoff Henderson, FRSA

This is what the TES (Times Educational Supplement) had to say.

Schools involved:

Ipsley CE RSA Academy

RSA Academy

Holyhead School

Project details:

Date Started 1 February 2014
Date Finished 15 July 2014
Project Funder RSA Academies

Question. What are the boundaries of design?

Answer. What are the boundaries of problems?

Charles Eames, Designer, 1972