A low-tech solution where kids exercise and tumble wash their clothes, a grocery trolley designed according to Inclusive Design principles, and an app that relies on true body size, not labels to curate your online shopping experience were among the projects presented at the Annual OU Design Show.
This year, over 50 projects across the 3 modules were presented showcasing student talents to explore, resolve, and illustrate complex design issues. Students across the U101 Design Thinking module presented their design skills through t-shirts, board games, and solutions to everyday issues like charging your phone, cutting pizza, or raising indoor plants. In T217 Design Essentials, modular kitchen furniture, outdoor gardening accessories, and nature reserve outposts were designed to improve the world around us. Meanwhile, students from T317 Design Innovation flexed their design skills to find innovative solutions to tricky problems such as helping children with learning difficulties to read.
What makes these projects impressive has less to do with the design briefs, and more to do with student resolve. While this year has proven challenging in many ways, OU students often start their studies with additional complications – challenging relationships with education and academia, busy work and life schedules, or varying abilities less suited to the classic design studio. Nevertheless, students seem to excel in their projects and demonstrate high quality design skills.
The Annual Design Show celebrated student successes at a launch in early July (watch the recording at: youtu.be/DOjriaF5IEY ). Throughout the evening, winning and highly commended projects – voted by staff and fellow students – were highlighted. In addition, we were very pleased to share the new permanent home of our Annual Show at OUdesignshow.org. Finally, a discussion lead by one of our academics – Theodora Philcox – explored the future of retail spaces. Namely, a line was drawn from early department stores in the 1900’s like Selfridges, through the 70’s with the decline of BIBA stores, and finally to today, where many large retail spaces now sit empty (more on this in a recent blog post:https://tinyurl.com/3ycpur2n). Students and staff engaged with ideas about what the future of department stores, shopping experiences, and these gigantic well-situated spaces may be. Debates brought to light generational shifts, political tensions, and concerns about the future of the UK. Should these spaces become destinations hubs reminiscent of department store glory days and breathe life into the dying shopping districts, or is it the perfect opportunity to create mini-cities complete with fully accessible homes, shops, libraries, …?
Finally, with the debates leaving us energised and inspired, we parted ways each to go on and take another look at a great number of OU student design projects this year at OUdesignshow.org.
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