In negotiating my own approach to research, I’m interested in the approach that other research schools follow. HighWire is finding its model as we grow up and involves negotiation between design, management and computing research perspectives which is a complex task. In my recent visit to the RCA, I had this in mind when observing the projects. I understand and value the RCA approach to research which is mostly practice and experience lead. While there are some whimsical projects, future looking, and provocative (some) students do address real world problems with practical solutions. Pleasingly this was reflected in the number of ‘patent pending’ labels throughout and the number of students emerging with viable business models and funding for their approaches.

Really interestingly the RCA had a number of projects which cumulated in viable process innovations. 

Not So Expanded Polystyrene
NSEPS by Silo where Attua Aparicio and Oscar Wanless invented a new manufacturing process that involves steaming polystyrene beads inside fabric moulds.

Veronica Ranner experimented with Biophilia, a conceptual silk worm prosthetics production sequence and Markus Kayser with solar sintering.

From here for here  by Ariane Prin which enables local waste materials to be refactored into a pencil.

A lovely example of point of use manufacture, a simple innovation that required letting go of conventions.

Furniture, being my weakness offered a pleasing array this year. Sadly, I chose to be law abiding and observed the ‘no photograph rule’ which I now regret, as some of the most exciting furniture isn’t documented online.

Tom Hatfield  developed a very simple jointing system for standardised material dimensions, patent pending I believe. As did benjamin Parton with escher joint and lumber lock both patent pending. (no web presence)

James Tooze experimented with open design in furniture  and shoes, brave in a discipline that fears open approaches, and forward looking, as acceptance does not necessarily precede adoption.

Design interactions didn’t really catch my attention this year, lots of physical computing, arduino projects awkwardly experimenting with evolving structures and sensored interactions. I feel uncomfortable with some of the design interactions that we see emerging at the moment but there is a longer term potential. One day I will articulate what I mean, in the mean time ‘techno junk’ might sum it up. That is not my phrase you’ll understand, but from someone who knows about these things.

In other news we are nearing the end of DocFest planning, I’m writing in PhD land, have been building a naughty alarm clock, talking to some super interesting people at the RCA and RSA and exploring the degree shows in London. It has been a busy month.


One thought on “RCA, RSA & Research

  1. Pingback: Escher Joint | Point of Use

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