The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) ran a series of workshops and talks at New Designers 2015 - the design graduate exhibition held in early July at the Business Design Centre, Islington.
For the thirtieth edition of the annual exhibition, in addition to the over 3,000 exhibiting graduates and roughly 17,000 visitors, over 200 industry leaders attended KTN’s talks and workshops – from Unilever and McDonald’s to IBM and McLaren Applied Technologies.
Photo credit: Mark Mackenzie
Designing people-centric cities
The Urban Design for Future Lifestyles and Human Behaviours workshop, was one KTN workshop, that connected a broad range of industry and design experts. The workshops posed the challenge to young designers to imagine new ideas for designing cities to be more people-focused, prompted by presentations of projects in Nottingham, Oxford and London.
Jonathan Shawyer from Nottingham City Homes described the Horizon 2020 supported Remourban Future Cities demonstrator Project, that is designed to tackle issues at the intersection of transport, energy and ICT. Remourban is a partnership between three Nottingham (UK), Valladolid (Spain), Eskisehir (Turkey), plus two follower cities: Seraing (Belgium) and Miskolc (Hungary).
Discussion focused on how to validate, collaborate and reel-in useful energy data from a range of parties to corroborate and create a neutral dataset. It also revealed that rather than try to force examination of the similarities across different cities in different countries, an alternative would be to test how the gaps and differences allowed for different innovations that could be validated using different controlled tests.
Bindu Varkey, Transport Strategy Manager, for Oxford County Council described a project for designing residential road design to be more people focused - particularly bearing in mind users with mobility difficulties, and with a view to reducing car usage.
Discussion focused on understanding local communities’ needs in their current mobility patterns through analysing patterns in big data – and also using personas and profiling to understand the potential choices and preferences for prospective communities in future housing developments.
For Greater London Authority, Daniel Barrett featured the A smarter Environment for London vision, that puts technological innovation at the heart of making the capital an even better place to live, work and invest.
This is part of the Smart London Plan, developed by the Smart London Board and launched by the Mayor of London in December 2013.
The conversation investigated whether using a simple unit, such as the local street, could be a way of making these connections and solutions understandable, e.g. in relation to transport choices, waste and recycling options, or how individual streets might be viewed as mini power stations linking up micro-renewables and local storage.
Each discussion generated ideas and appetite for further conversations that spilled out beyond the session, bringing together new collaborations and connections for the cities drawing on the insight and cross-sector expertise in the room.
Industry Meets New Designers reception
KTN also hosted a ‘Thursday Late’ Industry Meets New Designers reception, including short talks on communicating the value of design to industry.
KTN CEO Chris Warkup cited Brighton Fuse, a two-year research project that found businesses that combined creativity with technical expertise tended to grow much faster than those that did not. Aware of this positive impact, KTN has a cross-cutting Design Business Programme.
“We are all convinced that the earlier you involve a technology innovation journey in a design conversation, the more likely that technology journey is going to be successful,” stated Warkup.
Industrial Designer at McLaren Applied Technologies Jay Canham said that designers deliver value to business and requested the audience to educate businesses and the broader public about designers and what they can offer.
For a writeup of the other workshops see: When industry met New Designers – bringing science, creativity and business together
With great thanks to KTN contributing experts and facilitators: Prof Mischa Dohler (Director, World Sensing and King's College) Martin Charlier (Co-founder, Raincloud, co-author of Designing Connected Products), Dr. Deborah Cooke (Smart Futures Technology Leader, Unilever), Tom Fiddian (Lead Technologist, Innovate UK), Paul Williams (Technology specialist, Rolls Royce) Lynne Murray (London School of Fashion) Dr. Edward Hobson (Design Lead KTN), James Wehner (Digital Experience at McDonalds global) and overall partner, Nimbus Ninety.