It was fitting that the launch of the New Designers showcase took place on one of the hottest days for almost a decade.
For inside the Business Design Centre in London was some of the hottest graduate talent coming out of UK universities – among them, 19 final year design students from Bournemouth University.
Exhibiting working prototypes from their final year projects, BU’s New Designers stand was buzzing with creativity. Quite literally in the case of Industrial Design student Alice Parlett, who was showcasing her Cub-Bee Hole beehive.
A wooden block-based activity for people with dementia and their carers stood behind a bicycle ambulance for sub-Saharan Africa; an alternative funeral urn, which uses seeded paper to grow flowers from the burial site, was placed next to an aerial vehicle to aid night-time search and rescue operations.
“They get to learn a certain level of responsibility by being here and having to represent themselves and the university,” said Franziska Conrad, a Lecturer in Product Design at BU.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get their first job, it’s an opportunity to start their own businesses, with people walking around scouting.
“I think it’s a great way to round off four years of education with something that’s just a little bit more than a degree certificate.”
New Designers is one of the biggest showcases for design talent, with over 3,000 promising graduates from the UK’s leading universities exhibiting their work for industry representatives and the public.
Eleanor Van Leeuwen, who’s just finished her BA (Hons) Product Design degree at BU, was among those exhibiting.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be at New Designers,” she said.
“I was very honoured that I was selected to showcase my work and I feel that it gives you the added opportunity to meet people from industry and see how you can take your product to the next level.”
Her product, Droplet, is a hydration aid for elderly patients – which features a personalised message encouraging them to drink, and glows every 60 minutes to remind healthcare professionals to check on their patients.
“The response to it has been very heart-warming – so many people have gone as far as to say ‘my mum would still be here if she had this product’ or ‘my grandma needs this right now’, as well as carers and nurses saying how beneficial it could be to them,” Eleanor explained.
“It gives back some independence and some dignity back to the patient, which is one of the things that is so important.”
She added that creating working prototypes gave BU students an additional level of understanding and insight into the design process
“I think that the thing with Bournemouth that makes us different is that you have an understanding of how it’s manufactured,” said Eleanor.
“It helps you realise what real-life restrictions are like – so you have an understanding of why things are the way they are, which is really valuable for the future if you want to go into any kind of design job.”
Gemma Alcock was the first BU Design Business Management student to showcase their work at New Designers - exhibiting her Search and Rescue Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, which she has worked with the RNLI to create.
“I’m the only one from my course here, and the first person from my course to have been selected, so it’s a massive honour to be picked for New Designers,” she said.
“My product detects people in the water at night, which the RNLI currently really struggle to do. At the moment, night searches take four times longer than day searches – and my drone would help cancel that out and make it like it was daylight.”
Gemma won the Most Commercially Innovative Design award at BU’s Festival of Design and Technology, a degree show for over 170 final year design and creative technology students.
“It was amazing,” she said. “Any designer is really passionate about what they do, and spend so much time on it, so to have it justified and for people to be as passionate about it as you are, is a great feeling.
“The course itself gives a more holistic view of design, covering wider things like future trends and sustainability and all those kind of factors that beforehand I hadn’t even considered but learning how it influences sales and designs is really useful.”