In 2007, I graduated from Brunel University with a degree in Industrial design. Since leaving University and setting up Building Trust, I have been lucky to continue my connection with my former University through setting humanitarian project briefs to eager design students. I was thrilled to have been invited by my former Head of Design to be part of the judging panel for a brief set to the students by The James Dyson Foundation. I was very keen to attend the judging day and see the exciting solutions that the very same pupils whom I had set a brief to the previous year had come up with.
The same students who had spent weeks coming up with their own solutions to improving the very poor living conditions of migrant workers in Singapore now faced a new design challenge. The James Dyson Foundation aims to “inspire young people to study engineering and become engineers” and encourages “young people to think differently, make mistakes and invent. ” It was great to meet with the fellow jury members and was reassuring to hear that The James Dyson Foundation had very similar aims to Building Trust; promoting design as a tool for social change through connecting with young designers and engineers.
The JDF ‘Future Solutions’ Design Brief:
‘Design something that solves a problem caused by extreme weather in the UK’
Solve a first world problem using an iterative design process.
The James Dyson Foundation advised students that 2012 was the UK’s second wettest year on record and also the world’s tenth hottest year. As these trends will continue they felt it was very important that the students tackle these new climate challenges. Students were asked to think about areas such as disaster relief, disaster prevention, damage to houses due to flooding, solutions to problems caused by extreme weather, food crop adaptation due to climate change and water conservation due to drought.
It was great to read a challenging brief and I was eager to see the solutions that the students had come up with. Starting at 10am sharp we spent the day reviewing each students submission, carefully checking whether their design fitted the brief. It was interesting to see that many students had focused on similar ideas such as a new iPhone Application to provide traffic advice in an extreme weather scenario or to warn users of a flood. Many students also looked into tackling preventing damage to homes due to flooding with a similar product which blocked off water to the main front door. It was fantastic to see how the students had progressed from the previous year and it was obvious to see through their designs how passionate they were about humanitarian design. The most interesting solutions however had read the brief very carefully and created new innovative solutions to many of the areas stated above.
I am very happy to share with you the top 5 chosen designs which the selected students will now develop further over the upcoming weeks. In May, The James Dyson Foundation will review the 5 developed projects and choose a winner. The winning design will be given £1500 and runners up will be presented with a Dyson AM04 Fan Heater.
The Dyson 5
One of the shortlisted 5 designs was by Henry Davies who designed a product entitled ‘Bumble’. Henry came up with a solution to a problem caused by extreme weather. The ‘Bumble’ alerts the public of an open manhole using a water turbine to power and rotate a LED to warn those nearby.
‘Stretcher Chair’ by Matthew Durbin tackled the issue of how emergency services rescue people during emergency situations. The design converts from a flat stretcher to a mobile chair which two people can use to carry a person to safety.
Jo Gregory Brough’s app design entitled ‘Navigate’ aims to combat transportation issues when bad weather effects the UK. Users are able to share their experience with other app users to gain a greater knowledge of the road and transport conditions.
One of the more technical designs was ‘Deluge’ by D Posner, who decided to tackle flood prevention in the home. The solution to add hydromorphic polymer to the door frame. The polymer would expand when wet and seal the door giving the user added prevention against water damage.
‘Sampan’ by Phongpracha Vadanyakul provides a solution to transporting users who have been injured or trapped by disaster. The rescue raft works on both snow and water and provides an insulated waterproof compartment to prevent users from catching hypothermia.
I am sure you will agree that the designs are very innovative and tackle a wide range of solutions to the questions posed in the brief. It is great to see young people thinking about designing for disaster prevention as well as disaster relief.
I look forward to sharing with you updated developments of the projects and images of the winning design in May.
Thanks for reading.