Royal Society of Arts celebrates new generation of socially conscious designers

The Royal Society of Arts (RSA) announced the winners of the 96th RSA Student Design Awards, celebrating some of the best emerging talent in the world of circular fashion. Repurposing Britain’s laundrettes, and biodegradable dyes and fabrics made from seaweed were among the celebrated works at this year’s awards. Two design students took first prize in the category of Make Fashion Circular and Moving Pictures, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery through funding awarded by Postcode Dream Trust, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Students were charged with addressing one of the largest environmental issues on the planet – the enormous amount of waste and pollution produced by the fashion industry. The winning project, ‘Launder’, by Rachel Davies responded to the UK’s environmentally-damaging, fast-fashion habit. Launder reimagines the laundrette as a multi-service clothing and care destination featuring a broad range of repair services and evening classes showing how to mend and extend the life-cycle of clothes.

Refining my project to structure and communicate it to answer a specific brief was a process that helped me in my practice! The engagement with this specific brief has me really invested in its cause and the movement of circular fashion. I appreciate the discoveries I made in the process of finding my solution. I have also become really invested in my solution and would love to one day take it further.

– Rachel Davies, Falmouth University

In the category of Moving Pictures, Hannah Jesse triumphed with her playful animation exploring the reformation of the fashion industry through the adoption of a circular economy.

The brief introduced me to the medium of animation as a design output, and allowed me to experiment with communicating important, impactful messages within the given audio stimulus. After participating in the RSA Student Design Awards Moving Pictures brief, I’ve been inspired to pursue a future in animation.

– Hannah Jesse, Birmingham City University

I was impressed by the diversity of the submissions, from innovative technologies, to services that could answer the brief for a circular fashion industry. Getting to know the shortlisted students during the interview was the greatest highlight of the judging process. Seeing the amount of work they had put in, and passion that each and every one of them have was extremely inspiring. Throughout the judging process, we had rich and passionate conversations around the very meaning of what a circular fashion industry could look like, based on a great diversity of perspectives from the judging panel, and these were key in choosing which of the submissions should be winners.

– Elodie Rousselot – Project Manager Circular Design for Fashion, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Student Design Awards, run by the RSA is an annual competition for higher education students and recent graduates. Each year, the RSA challenges emerging designers to engage with a range of design briefs centred on social and environmental impact. Previous winners include the Chief Design Officer of Apple and co-founder of IDEO.

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