I am Technical Director & Co-Founder of Co-oproduct. I spend most of my time thinking about how design can be more useful to the world and I make my own Cider, from my own apple tree! You can find out more about me in our 'About Us' pages.
Spotted during New York Design Week 2016, the Scraplight white series is a collaboration between the Graypants Seattle and Amsterdam studios and builds on previous work by the team of 'Problem Solvers' whose work crosses Product and Architecture.
Using custom FSC-certified paper, produced from forests that replant more trees than they harvest. The Scraplight white series are an elegant and contemporary development of the original ScrapLights range. In their own words, Graypants say that they finally achieved the bright, modern glow that they always imagined from the original collection: The crisp translucency perfectly contrasts the rustic warmth of the natural cardboard Scraplights, making them a chic alternative for a variety of spaces.
In this ode to design renegades, Alice Rawsthorn highlights the work of unlikely heroes, from Blackbeard to Florence Nightingale. Drawing a line from these bold thinkers to some early modern visionaries like Buckminster Fuller, Rawsthorn shows how the greatest designers are often the most rebellious.
Material culture lies at the heart of design and there can be no question that we have a need to better understand and evolve material culture, for the common good of all people. As a society we’re currently using twice as many resources as the planet can sustain and I believe that all practicing product designers should be adjusting their working methods to use the resources available to us more responsibly.
In my experience, the commercialisation of design education has caused many providers of it to become more rigid and inflexible in the ways that they deliver design training and education. Educational providers of all types are naturally concerned about the risks associated with offering too many options in their design education curriculums. This means that too many educational programmes now nurture a conservative approach, leading students to deliver the results that they expect will best meet the needs of our material culture. It’s safer for educators to encourage this approach than it is to inspire students to explore and disrupt existing models of design - the path that would more likely lead to innovation.
According to Steve Rutherford, editor and author of the first cross-disciplinary design text book, The Design Student's Handbook: "At a time when design education at all levels is becoming definable, modularised and conveyor belt-like, what the design industry and the business world in general really need are people who are flexible, positive, pro-active and great researchers and communicators, people who take calculated risks and contribute real change to society, no matter what they're working on. As we're trying to do this, governments, universities and even professional bodies are trying to tie down what design is to a tight syllabus, a list of skills and a job specification. In a quick changing world these are not the things we need".
Rutherford’s call for dynamic and proactive design education is also evident in the Design Disruptors documentary by Invision, where it is presented alongside clear evidence and numerous high profile case studies that demonstrate how a flexible approach to contemporary design can add value to any business or problem, no matter what the potential outcome. It is this ability to adapt and use the design process, through critical and reflective thinking that enables designers to transform even the most challenging of problems.
Design Disruptors documentary by Invision
Not surprising then, that the recent Design Council 2016 report, The Design Economy, reveals £71.7 billion was contributed to the UK economy in 2013, by designers working in both design-specific and non-design industries. The Design Council report reminds us not to lose sight of how important design is. However, as Victor Papanek pointed out 45 years ago, “There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them.” (Papanek, V., 1971)
There are also many other important issues that we need to consider in the creation of our design educational curriculums. These include the fact that we are using 50% more natural resources than our planet can sustain (The World Counts, 2016) and that the recent explosion of big data means that there are rapidly expanding new markets and environments to be explored and understood.
Regardless of Papanek’s foresight, the majority of product design education hasn’t prepared well for this change and is only beginning to understand the significant effect that design can have on these major issues.
As a Senior Lecturer in Product Design, I’ve reached the stage where I’m not interested in creating another conventional product design degree, with the same accompanying problems as those that already exist. In my new role at Plymouth College of Art,I've been helping to establish a unique contemporary Product Design degree which has proven to be a rare opportunity to create a distinctive; disruptive and socially relevant new product design course. This opportunity reminds me again of how it feels to innovate...
"Talking disruptive design with Jamie Billing". @PCA
This new product design degree, combines physical and digital design with contemporary shifts in sustainable, ethical and open design principles - to disrupt the status quo and train the designers of the future. Uniquely to the provision of design education in the UK, we have identified three core drivers that are currently challenging design practice: ‘Environmental Degradation’, ‘Social/Open/Frugal Innovation’ and ‘Interaction’ (or, the continued convergence of humans, objects and information). In the true spirit of creation, we have built our programme from the ground up around these central themes. The rationale for doing this is threefold:
1. Designers play a central role in contributing to environmental degradation, because design and the production of material culture drives consumption. Consumption requires a constant flow of resources and infrastructure and the majority of designers simply haven’t proved their efficacy in influencing a sustainable balance of natural resources against manufacturing demand.
2. There are many new emerging trends, cultures and methods that actively seek to disrupt the status quo, by challenging existing conventions and ideologies. Designers need to understand how the global phenomenon in new democratic, open, social and frugal forms of innovation such as ‘Making, DIY and Sharing Culture’ are changing and shaping the traditional role of the designer.
3. The recent explosion in software and data production forces objects and information further together than ever before, unifying them into new forms, often realised as complex and ‘smart’ responsive systems and products. The evolution of architecture and infrastructure to support this new data explosion means that many networks are comprised of multiple, evolutionary layers of dynamic and ‘smart’ platforms. Recently, designers and particularly the product design profession have begun to establish themselves as a vital influence in the manifestation of new software and data products. It is important that design education embraces this new shift in design practice and continues to explore the significant positive influence that product designers are achieving in the evolution and experience of these new products.
On the Product Design & Innovation programme at PCA, we’ll be adopting Fusion 360 for our students, as an alternative to Solidworks and once again, will use the sustainable design resources on the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop. I’ve used them many times in my own practice and academic work with students, which you can read about on Core77, at Autodesk or Co-oproduct.
Following last years' Sustainable City Award, Co-oproduct CIC feature as an Inspirational Case Study in a new book by Greenleaf Publishing, "Sustainable Cities, Inspirational Case Studies".
The feature spans 8 pages outlining our mission and other areas of our work, including images of projects, competitions that we run and our community work in schools. As well as Co-oproduct, there are many other award winners featured, all working hard to achieve sustainable practice in our cities.
Winners and nominees of the 2013/14 Sustainable City Awards present their case stories in a new collection, Sustainable Cities: Inspirational Case Studies. These short, easy-to-read stories will serve as an inspiration to others around the world in the quest to make our cities more sustainable. The awards were established in 2001 by the City of London Corporation and aim to recognise and reward organisations that have demonstrated excellence in sustainable development. Sustainable Cities is published by Greenleaf Publishing in association with the City of London.