New voices at London Design Festival

Around the corner from the main V&A London Design Festival hub, students at the Royal College of Art hosted a series of exhibitions at their South Kensington campus.

Sustain showcased sustainable objects, ecological thinking and solutions from across the art and design disciplines. Vehicle design student Robert Hagenstrom’s Bamboo Utility Vehicle, for instance, is both ecologically and socially sustainable. It promotes people in the developing world to generate their own materials, to build a car that can then continue to provide an income.

Ido Baruchin’s Otto, on the other hand, challenges the monolithic notion of a world car. The designer refers to the Otto system as ‘contextual mobility’ whereby the car not only responds to the needs of various societies but also involves both global and regional manufacturing – using local materials, labour and craft.

One of the main highlights of the RCA show was a design research project from the college’s Helen Hamlyn Centre that saw a full-size mobile demonstrator of a new and improved ambulance interior constructed outside the college building.

Building on six years of research, the design project ‘redesigning the ambulance: improving mobile emergency healthcare’ aims to improve the experience for patients and to create a better treatment space for staff.

The design idea is pretty simple: move the bed to the middle of the ambulance to achieve 360° access to the patient, whilst creating a simple interior space for easy cleaning, and modular equipment packs containing specific treatment consumables incorporated to aid in clinical performance, infection control and stock taking.

Also at the core of the new concept is the communications and monitoring system that provides much better road navigation, enables video links, discussion with hospital colleagues and specialists, and access to patient records. It sends vital signs and handover information directly to the hospital whilst en route.

The project began with the designers joining ambulance crews on callouts during twelve-hour shifts. Key insights were translated into sketch designs, and a full-scale test rig was mocked up in cardboard and foam. Front line paramedics, clinicians, patients, academic researchers, engineers and designers then worked together in a co-design process to develop and evaluate proposals.

Finally, and on a lighter note, the RCA Design Products Department collaborated with Italian fashion house Fendi to celebrate the opening of its new Sloane Street store by creating a temporary window and in-store displays incorporating innovative uses of Fendi’s craftsmanship along with discarded materials. Read the DT preview.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read more on the LDF11 highlights at its hub in the V&A and at Clerkenwell, Bloomsbury and Shoreditch.

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