The RSA Student Design Awards is an annual scheme now in its 89th year, which issues briefs to young designers to demonstrate how design can solve 21st century problems. The eight briefs this year covered social challenges ranging from tackling water pollution and waste reduction to improving working environments and commuting.
The winning entries received a year’s RSA Fellowship, which provides the students with access to the RSA’s Catalyst Fund and Skills Bank to further develop their projects. Worth over £30,000 in prize monies, that comprise cash awards and work placements, the RSA Student Design Awards provide financial and practical assistance to student designers starting out in their careers.
One of the student winners, Charles Anderson, who has just completed a degree in Graphic Design at Kingston University, has won an internship at the Environment Agency for his proposal to tackle water pollution in the UK. His project, ‘Dump in Polystyrene’, is a product and service design solution for breaking down and recycling polystyrene that would otherwise be sent to landfill. Inspired by his first-hand experience of encountering large quantities of polystyrene pollution in the river Thames near his home in Kingston, Charles said:
“Since my childhood I have constantly been aware of the litter in the river and the influence it had on the local environment. Through my project research I learned about how water-borne animals mistake polystyrene for food. It clogs up their digestive system which starves the animal. Polystyrene also breaks up and releases pollutants into the soil. This project is about reducing polystyrene waste down to a manageable size. The current size-to-weight ratio targets mean that local councils can’t recycle it – so I designed a process that meets these targets.”
Meredith Thompson and Nicole Shadbolt, MA Design students from Plymouth University, have each won a paid internship at Waitrose in the Graphic Design Team for their project ‘The Hive’. Responding to a brief asking for ideas to help people live more sustainably, ‘The Hive’ is a community improvement scheme focussed on developing bee-friendly neighbourhoods and educating people about the importance of the UK bee population.
Christopher Kelly, a final year Interior Design Technology student from London Metropolitan University, won a £1,000 cash award for his design of a portable canopy that collects and filters rainwater for reuse in urban spaces. Christopher proposed the canopy could, for example, be installed at ‘Boris bike’ stands, where it could shelter people and the bikes from rain showers, and provide drinking water for cyclists.
Commenting on the winners, the RSA’S Co-director of Design Nat Hunter said:
“We were extremely impressed by the quality of entries this year. The winning students demonstrated exceptional insight and ingenuity in their responses to the complex social challenges in the briefs. Many of this year’s winners have told us that entering the RSA Student Design Awards has transformed their aspirations and they are now looking to develop a career that uses their new skills to benefit society.”
The RSA Student Design Awards scheme continues to be the paramount design competition for young designers looking to apply their skills to enduring social issues and real-world problems. Past winners of the RSA Student Design Awards include Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice-President of Industrial Design at Apple; fashion designer Betty Jackson; Andy Clark, who designed the Heathrow Express train; and Hot Springs radiator designer and founder of Priestmangoode, Paul Priestman.
See more details about all the winners here.