Every January, MA students start the year by showcasing the status of progression of their graduation projects - which will see full development for June's Degree Show.
The work presented seemed to gravitate around extremely current discourses: ethical eating and informed consumer choices; alternative practices for a more empathic healthcare; the potential and controversies of technologies for the 'augmented self'; an increasingly radical re-thinking of current (unsustainable) use of the Planet's resources.
A new common thread seemed to run through this edition, though, loud and clear. Young designers look increasingly preoccupied with implications rather than applications. It is an approach that has emerged in most recent years, yet this time it appeared to be the general mood. Taking design as an opportunity for agency and debate, the projects shift focus: the actual final outcome is almost secondary to the question it triggers in the viewer.
MA students surely know that the world doesn't need more stuff yet it strongly demands alternative solutions and design-thinking. And so, they are putting this awareness well into practice, featuring work that gets political without blind provocation.
No doubt 2016 has been a crazy year - what a clever way to start 2017 on a different note!
Here is our selection of the Work In Progress Show highlights from MA Narrative Environments, MA Industrial Design and MA Material Futures. Come see the final evolution of all of the projects in June!
Prachi Joshi | 'The Maverick's Contra-Guide'
ABOUT A MUSEUM THAT CLAIMS TO BE 'UNIVERSAL'
The project is a subversive experience within the British Museum that takes a critical stance towards its claim to be a 'Universal Museum' while advocating a more inclusive, participative museum experience. Joshi aims at 'uncovering' the Universal Museum - "Visitors need to question the privileged notion of 'universality' implicit in certain conceptions of the museum, and to recognize their own participation in the museum as a social institution. My interest also comes from the fact that I am from a country which has a colonial past (India), and our museums are remnants of the Colonial rule - museums in the post-colonial era and their claim to be universal. The British Museum is the epitome of a 'Museums', and is considered the Museum standard."
Symeon Banos | 'D-ID: Diffused Identities'
ARE MILLENIALS CONDEMNED TO ETERNAL NOMADISM?
The project consists of a travelling multimedia installation, highlighting the experience of modern nomads of the Millennial Generation under contemporary, socio-political and economic conditions.
“When I left my home country, Greece, compelled by the economic crisis, London appeared as a dreamland - ever since I arrived here I have been investigating my hopes and dreams, starting by ‘sprouting my roots’ - building up my ‘home’. However, Brexit brought feelings of uncertainty, insecurity and instability, uprooting whatever I had built so far; that moment became the starting point of my project. I aim to raise intergenerational awareness of Millennials' forced nomadism and the effects political decisions have on it.”
Lucinda R. Mulholland | 'Reframing fashion stigma'
GLAMOUROUS HEARING AIDS ARE HERE
This project aims to reframe the stigma associated with assistive technologies to the design of fancy assistive wearables - to turn the hearing aid from a medical device into a style statement. "Fashion is a much-neglected area of wearable medical devices, I wanted to investigate this further. On average, it takes 10 years for people to address their hearing loss and buy hearing aids - these statistics make me question the reasons behind such hesitation and if concerns around self-image are somehow involved.”
Inge Sluijs | 'Plasma Rock'
FROM BY-PRODUCT INTO NEW RAW MATERIAL
A new technology called plasma gasification is being used to convert waste from landfills into new energy. This process seems to have the potential to overcome the concerns regarding the toxicity of landfills, whilst addressing the increasing environmental issue they represent. The main outcome is fuel - but there is a by-product called 'plasma rock' that looks and behaves like lava and is completely non-toxic. This slag material is fully vitrified, mechanically strong and environmentally stable.
100 kgs of waste generate approximately 1000 KW of energy and 20 Kg of plasma rock. Examples of plasma in nature include the Sun and lighting. The plasma-enhanced melter breaks down everyday waste into its constituent atomic elements. The waste elements of this process are cooled down in a glass batch, producing the plasma rock. The project aims at exploring plasma rock as a raw material and investigate its full potential for design. “I want to prove the viability of the material and transform the way we view landfill sites."
Ben Brook | 'A Virtual World with Real Materials'
THE INTERNET IS LIKE COFFEE: ADDICTIVE
The project aims to translate online behaviour and internet activities into physical experiences and objects.
We spend a large portion of our day engaged in online activities. Although this behaviour can influence our physical contact, we receive very little or no visceral feedback from our engagement online - the project looks at how we can read the internet as a physical feature within our landscape. By proposing a more physical connection to our online services, we can broaden our experience of the internet and explore an alternative way to access online information
Chayanut Ratanachai | 'Very Honest Meat Shop'
Very Honest Meat Shop is a pop-up supermarket that offers the hard truths about chicken, pork and beef production in the UK. How can consumers be more aware of the risks and effects of the meat they regularly buy in supermarkets? "I would like my project to act as a means to expose and publicize the truth behind the meat we, as consumers, daily consume. It is so that consumers can make more informed choices when buying their meat produce and further demand better quality meat products for themselves or their families."
Margaux Hendriksen | 'Space Mining'
Space mining appears to be possible in the near future.
The first water could be extracted from an asteroid as early as 2025. In 2015, United States signed the Asteroid Act, which enables private companies to access, process and commercialize resources extracted on the moon and asteroids.
“The moon is an attractive target for investors: water, He3 and precious metals are materials with a huge value in space. Thus, we must consider who will own those materials and for what purpose. My project aims to explore scenarios that may unfold in the future - in the context of the current political, ethical and legal situation."
Lily Consuelo Saporta Tagiuri | 'The Economy of Clouds'
WHO OWNS THE CLOUDS (AND THEIR WATER)?
It is no secret that water scarcity will increasingly be an issue and some argue that it is at the core of some of the most enduring geopolitical conflicts across the globe. This project explores clouds as resource and digs into the system of values that generates.
Out of the fresh water on Earth, 3% is stored in clouds. This may seem insignificant until you realize that 67% of fresh water is stored in ice caps melting into the oceans - and the remaining 30% is in groundwater and reservoirs own by both public and private parties. Put in this perspective, clouds contain the only free fresh water and - through evaporation - they are constantly refilling and carrying water reserves around the globe.
"Cloud seeding has been practiced for more than 50 years. Weather modification, as terrifyingly dark as it seems, is not only a prospect but a current reality and future inevitability. I am becoming both scared and maybe at times hopeful, but certainly aware. Hopefully, this will be more useful to an average citizen rather than a military super-power."
Nuttanun Chantadansuwan | 'Lost in Navigation'
AWAKENING NAVIGATION SKILLS
The project consists of a pop-up exhibition that challenges urban dwellers' navigation skills, which are in danger of being lost in the digital age. Younger generations grow up with easy access to mobile digital information and communication technologies (ICTs). With this project, the designer aims at raising awareness on technology dependence, celebrating urban experiences and encouraging us to develop our existing navigation capabilities.