The of Department of Design Innovation’s Spring Exhibition Student Work in the Library Foyer is part of the University’s Love Data season. It celebrates two projects that have come from collaboration with ESB: ‘Low Carbon Challenge’ with MSc Design Innovation, and ‘ESB 4 Gen Z’ with 3rd Year BSc Product Design. Our 2nd Year winners of the 'Wall to Workspace' competition are also exhibited and the hopeful 4th Year entries to this year’s RSA competition.
Many design concepts rely on data in order to work. The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) student briefs rely on data to inform design thinking to tackle a range of pressing social, environmental and economic issues. For the two ESB briefs, Generation Z and Low Carbon Challenge, students took an informed and broad practical approach to data, from a qualitative approach to engage with communities, to big data that monitors community and personal energy consumption. With Gen Z, they examined assumptions and determined if they were supported by data. Through ethnographic research, students gathered key insights into consumer behaviour and used these insights to develop solutions that embraced the opportunities big data provides to tailor services and energy-saving solutions to users.
3rd Year BSc Product Design students, Department of Design Innovation, worked on a live project with Jeff Walsh, Senior Product Manager, New Business & Markets ESB to examine the assumptions around Gen Z and their knowledge of energy and ESB. Using ethnographic research methods, they gathered key insights that they developed into creative concepts for a ‘cool product’ or service aimed at Gen Z. Based on both an understanding of the Gen Z needs and wants, the concepts focussed on one specific area adjacent to energy that could be brought to market by ESB. What can ESB do to better serve the needs of Gen Z?
MSc Design Innovation students were challenged to make Low Carbon Living achievable and desirable for ordinary people. Working with Mark Fowler, Innovation Capability Manager, and Jeff Walsh at ESB, the students created and developed innovative design solutions ranging from interactive products to community action. “If people got into a mind-set of making small changes and recognising the carbon and other environmental and personal benefits of these changes, perhaps it would spur them on to the bigger transformations” (Fergal Egan, Innovation Hub Manager ESB). Change is difficult. Where change involves any significant level of expenditure, people want to be certain they are making the right decisions to get the desired outcomes. Transformation to a low carbon life, in terms of energy footprint and mobility behaviours, is very challenging for many people in society. Our MSc Design Innovation students addressed the absence of tools and services that help people identify simple first steps that can help them move to a low carbon lifestyle.
The RSA Student Design Awards is a global curriculum and competition for emerging designers that’s been running since 1924. It challenges students to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues through design thinking. 4th Year BSc Product Design students worked in teams from a choice of nine real-world challenges rooted in big societal problems. How might we design ways to make fashion circular, engage diverse communities through food, or transform health using AI? How could we unlock joy at train stations, make active travel accessible, harness the potential of woodlands or help displaced people to find safety and dignity?
This year’s competition challenged students to use “Circular Economy” principals to improve natural human interactions in the work/learn space. A large percentage of the world’s furniture ends up in landfill after a relatively short period of time. Very little is done from a systems thinking perspective, to achieve multiple lives from components or furniture, resulting in mass quantities on unnecessary waste. Students demonstrated an ability to think about both the needs of the users and how their solution can be reused, redeveloped or broken down as components for new furniture in another life.