Royal Society of Arts celebrates new generation of socially conscious designers

June 25, 2020

Today, the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) announced the winners of the 96th RSA Student Design Awards, celebrating some of the best emerging talent in the world of design.

The Foundation, alongside the RSA with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery contributed two briefs; ‘Make Fashion Circular’ and ‘Moving Pictures’. Three winners across the two briefs were awarded - Rachel Davies with her idea ‘Launder’, Emerald Gibson and Lauren Kilroy with their animation ‘Redress Fashion’ and Hannah Jesse with her animation ‘A change of clothes’.

For the Make Fashion Circular brief, students were tasked with addressing one of the largest environmental issues on the planet – the enormous amount of waste and pollution produced by the fashion industry. The winning project, ‘Launder’ by Rachel reimagines the laundrette as a multi-service clothing and care destination featuring a broad range of repair services and evening classes showing how to mend and extend the life-cycle of clothes.

Refining my project to structure and communicate it to answer a specific brief was a process that helped me in my practice! The engagement with this specific brief has me really invested in its cause and the movement of circular fashion. I appreciate the discoveries I made in the process of finding my solution. I have also become really invested in my solution and would love to one day take it further.

- Rachel Davies, Falmouth University

The second brief - Moving Pictures, saw students tasked with creating an animation to accompany the audio clip, 'Fashioning a Circular Future' - narrated by model Lily Cole. The animation needed to clarify, energise and illuminate the content, highlighting the need to change our current 'take, make, waste' fashion industry using circular economy principles.

There were joint winners in this category - Emerald Gibson and Lauren Kilroy with their animation ‘Redress Fashion’ and Hannah Jesse with her playful animation 'A Change of Clothes'. Both animations explore the reformation of the fashion industry through the adoption of a circular economy.

The brief introduced me to the medium of animation as a design output, and allowed me to experiment with communicating important, impactful messages within the given audio stimulus. After participating in the RSA Student Design Awards Moving Pictures brief, I've been inspired to pursue a future in animation.

- Hannah Jesse, Birmingham City University

Elodie Rousselot, Circular Design Project Manager for the Foundation's Make Fashion Circular initiative, was one of the judges for the awards as an expert in circular design, and how businesses within the fashion industry can integrate circular economy into their strategies.

I was impressed by the diversity of the submissions, from innovative technologies, to services that could answer the brief for a circular fashion industry. Getting to know the shortlisted students during the interview was the greatest highlight of the judging process. Seeing the amount of work they had put in, and passion that each and every one of them have was extremely inspiring. Throughout the judging process, we had rich and passionate conversations around the very meaning of what a circular fashion industry could look like, based on a great diversity of perspectives from the judging panel, and these were key in choosing which of the submissions should be winners.

- Elodie Rousselot - Project Manager Circular Design for Fashion, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Student Design Awards, run by the RSA is an annual competition for higher education students and recent graduates. Each year, the RSA challenges emerging designers to engage with a range of design briefs centred on social and environmental impact. Previous winners include the Chief Design Officer of Apple and co-founder of IDEO.

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