We’ve been working with the latest cohort of Goldsmiths’ MA Design students on their current term project, ‘Engaging Design.’ The design research brief asks students to engage with a Public Body in the UK of their choosing as a starting point. With 360 Public Bodies in the UK, there are a wide range of agencies supporting everything from the British Museum to forestry research. From here, students set out to explore the issues, implications, and networks associated with these Public Bodies, and find an area for design intervention. Students are using various design research methods to engage with these governmental bodies including film documentaries, cultural probes, and physical prototyping.
We participated in the kick-off session and the final project presentations this past Friday at Goldsmiths, in the Design Department. Students had been working in groups of 5 to 7 over the past 10 weeks, working on a wide range of design projects across sectors and industries. Some of the Public Bodies that were chosen include the Theatres Trust, Innovate UK, the Environment Agency, and the Information Commissioner’s Office – each dealing with a different set of issues concerning the public, from the preservation of national theatres to the protection of our personal data.
Some groups took the approach of designing physical prototypes to research and engage with the remit of their chosen public body. For example, a group that started with Passenger Focus as their starting point, designed a ‘cocoon’ to explore issues of personal space while traveling on the tube. Another group that began with the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) as their starting point designed an apparatus to engage people around the potentials of growing GM-modified food in their own homes. Others explored the use of performance to engage with the public, such as a group that started with the Theatres Trust, and moved away from the focus of their public body. It was both enriching and refreshing to see such a wide range of projects and approaches taken up by these students – showing just how versatile and engaging design research can be.