31 Oct - 3 November 2011, Royal College of Art
Part of AcrossRCA interdisciplinary collaboration week at the RCA
This four-day version of the Methods Lab, Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design's annual education workshop, involved students from ten RCA programmes and the Media Studies department at the Media, Art & Design Faculty (MAD) in Genk, Belgium. In total, 37 students made up four interdisciplinary teams.
The participating students were asked to engage with local communities in Kensington, experiment with design methods and work with students from different disciplines to develop and test designs that could improve people's lives.
The brief: Ageing in Kensington
This was the second year that the theme of 'Ageing in Kensington' was used to promote the concept of ageing as a culture rather than as a problem in our society.
The brief asked the teams to design and conduct a design event to promote a more sustainable lifestyle for all. With its proximity to the RCA and the highest life expectancy in the UK (82.4 years, 10 years more than many other areas of the city), the London borough of Kensington was selected to be the test bed for the teams.
Each event could address a single scenario or span a range of issues but should include the needs and aspirations of local residents. It was also important that the design event should encourage active participation with the local community as well as RCA students and staff members. Results should demonstrate alternative design perspectives to perceived attitudes of ageing.
The students worked in teams with creative partners who were: older local residents from Age UK, Kensington & Chelsea and London's University of Third Age (U3A), a design professor who grew up in Kensington and a MAD design tutor who was pregnant, and as a visitor of Kensington, could co-investigate the neighbourhood.
The workshop began with a briefing session by project leader Dr Yanki Lee who explained some current debates in design, participation and social development.
There was a collective exercise each day that brought together interdisciplinary teams:
The seminars and discussions at the end of each day were led by: Rama Gheerawo, Deputy Director HHCD who discussed challenges of ageing research; Sevra Davis, Royal Society of Arts (RSA) who explained Emily Campbell's Design & Rehabilitation; Neils Hendriks from presented recent design research in dementia at MAD and Prof Jeremy Myerson, Director of the HHCD discussed how to translate design research data into design action.
In the four-day period, students were inspired by their creative partners and encouraged to engage with the local community through a creative design processes. Collectively, new design ideas for our active future selves were developed and tested.