PDE course trip to London – Part 1

Every September the 4th year of Product Design Engineering in Glasgow visit London for the London Design Festival. As well as it being a bit of an excuse to go on a trip to London, the coinciding Design Festival meant that we were able to browse some examples of pretty interesting design, and gain some inspiration. We visited the Design Museum, The V&A Museum, and the London Design Fair of 2019, and some other notable pieces of design such as the Diana Memorial Fountain, and the Serpentine Gallery. In this first part of the post I will highlight my favourite aspects of design that I encountered in the Design Museum, and why I believe them to be ‘great’.

First we visited the ‘Beazely Designs Of the Year’ exhibition, which is a design award chosen by the public at this exhibition. There were lots of examples of good design, and some that I didn’t think were particularly special. The first exhibit that springs to mind is an example of what I believe to be great design. It was ‘Lia’s Pregnancy Test’. We live in a world of non-recyclable plastics that are filling our seas, filling our landfills, and draining the planet’s oil reserves. Pregnancy tests are made from these plastics, and are thrown to waste after a single use. ‘Lia’s Pregnancy Test’ is made of paper, and will disintegrate and biodegrade when disposed of. There is a lot of pressure on the current generation of designers to create sustainable, eco-friendly products, and this is a great example of a designer who has spotted an opportunity to do this.

Lia’s paper pregnancy test

The second piece of design I want to mention from this exhibition was ‘Glove’ by Loffi. This is not a technical piece of engineering, and does not boast a revolutionary way to help sustainable living, for example, but simply offers a way to ‘reduce animosity and anger on roads between cyclists and drivers’. As you can see from the image below and on the left, it is just a cycling glove with a smiley face on the palm. I cycle regularly in Glasgow, and this made me laugh. I like the thought that an angry driver would see this and potentially take it easy as he drives past the next cyclists that he comes across. Design does not have to be groundbreaking to be great, if it can make a difference to even a small amount of people then that is a good thing.

The last product that I want to talk about is the ‘S’up spoon’ by 4c Design. 4c Design is a Glasgow based design company that actually came to visit us last year, so maybe I am a little biased when choosing this as an example of great design. The spoon has been designed to help those with cerebral palsy. Here we can see how the design has been iterated through prototyping to create the most efficient way of performing its function, whilst still remaining aesthetically pleasing enough that one can take it into a restaurant, and not feel embarrassed. The spoon itself is shaped in such a way that it scoops the food and holds it secure, rather than relying on the balance of the user to keep the food in place. The S’up spoon has gone on to help others with shaky hands, not just those with cerebral palsy. This is a great example of how inclusive design can benefit a much wider audience than you might first imagine.

I will stop here and fill you in on the rest of the trip in my next blog post. I know you can’t wait! See you soon.

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