2019 Degree show round up – 4 Big Themes

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

by | 7 Aug, 2019 | Untapped Thinking

At Untapped, we are passionate about connecting human needs, technical possibilities and future trends, and nowhere is this seen more brilliantly than the year end degree shows of some of the UK’s best university programs. This year we visited University Of The Arts Central St. Martins, The Royal College Of Art, University Of The West Of England, amongst others, to experience new thinking from students of Creative Product Design, Service Design, Textile Design, Innovation Management and Material Futures. Here is our round up of the ‘4 Big Themes’ seen in the brightest, emerging ideas.

1. Do More With Less

Unsurprisingly a central theme to all of the degree shows was sustainability and doing more with less.

At UWE we loved Thomas’ Elwescustom eye-glasses pressing technique which uses recyclable plastic to ‘make something different’ and Emma Davies ‘Natural Eye’ at home mascara creation kit. At the RCA, Rui Xu’s ‘Fresh Tag’ was a compelling use of textiles with a natural pH sensitive dye system to more accurately and dynamically predict use-by dates on food. The UAL Material Futures group did not disappoint with Marcel Nieto Glowacki’s study on ‘The Future Is Plastic’ where he explores how we can utilise the current mountains of plastic waste, and Mi Zhou’s fabulous ‘Soapack’ which houses luxury beauty products in solid soap-based packaging which itself can be used once the contents have been consumed.

2. Mental Health Understanding

We saw fascinating examples of how materiality can influence mental health for group and individual benefits at the Textile Design program at RCA and the Material Futures program at UALMarion Lasserre from UAL examines if emotions can actually be engineered by materiality while Hannah Robinson from RCA explores if ‘materials can be used as tools for informal therapy’. Isha Pimpalkhare and Tor Ewen examine material environment effects when creating engaging and meaningful spaces and encouraging social interaction and play.

3. Human Centred Service Design

The Service Design group at the RCA really focused on the human element when bringing these ideas to life and we particularly loved ‘reimagining dental care’ from Radim Pekarek which connects families, schools and dentists for better oral health and the ‘weightless baggage service’ from Joshua Notley and British Airways which decouples baggage delivery from the journey for disabled or senior passengers. Ciaran Moore from the RCA Textiles group also introduces a new vision for possible fashion design services using virtual reality and interactive fashion customisation tools.

4. Wow That’s Clever!

Lastly, we come to our favourite theme – clever ideas we didn’t see coming. Olivia Hutching’s ballet pointe ‘shoe that trains you’ is an elegantly simple solution to the difficult problem of learning to dance on pointe. Rosie Broadhead’s Skin II examines the use and benefits of probiotics embedded in clothing. And last but not least, Yiwei Cui’s modern ‘Bio-Kintsugi’ use of bacteria as an adhesive was fascinating.

Jack Ma said it well when he said ‘Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world’. We feel that the applications from these and many of the other degree show projects could have wide-ranging benefits for many of our consumer facing tech and FMCG clients. Do get in touch if you would like to discuss how connecting these emerging ideas and themes could inspire your people and business.

Untapping Human Needs, Technical Possibilities & Future Trends.

Brilliant Ideas, Faster.

Deirdre Walters

Deirdre Walters

[email protected] Deirdre is fascinated by the diversity of Untapped clients, and enjoys working with them to reduce innovation uncertainty, translating complex consumer and technology insights into actionable business recommendations.

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