Industry-funded projects by the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates 2007 – 12 design graduates of the Royal College of Art – were showcased at a show and symposium at the RCA this autumn, as part of the London Design Festival.
The exhibition of projects, entitled Vital Signs, runs in the RCA Galleries from 21 September to 4 October 2007.
The symposium took place in the Upper Gulbenkian Gallery at the RCA on Monday 24 September – and featured Maria Benktzon of Ergonomidesign in Sweden, one of the world’s pioneers of inclusive design.
Maria Benktzon charted the rise of the design for all movement in Sweden in the 1960s and showed recent projects by Ergonomidesign under the banner of ‘innovation for people’. Her practice, she explained, had its roots in design for disability but now focused on ‘design for human diversity’.
Responding to the projects, another international visitor, US academic Sean Donahue of Art Center in Pasadena, praised the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates for their work and suggested that a key challenge ahead for designers was not simply to improve quality of life but ‘to define what quality of life means’.
This year’s industry partners on the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates programme included BT, Toyota, Intel, Celesio, Ideal Standard, DePuy, the National Patient Safety Agency, sight-loss charity Thomas Pocklington and a quartet of architectural firms, Reid Architecture, Arup, Sheppard Robson and Child Graddon Lewis.Projects were grouped under three main themes: independent living for older people in the home; innovation in healthcare and patient safety; and mobility in urban and rural communities.