Young Minds Changing the World

I have been prompted to write this post by a statement that was made to me last week. The statement was simple: “This is by far the most exciting graduate exhibition I have seen.” So I captured this statement as Young Minds Changing the World. This is the facebook site – take a look for more info about graduate projects and also interesting work from earlier exhibitions.

We are sitting in the Design hub outside the graduate exhibition for the Industrial Design Program at RMIT University. I am sipping some very nice red wine and she is nursing a bottle of chilled beer. The graduate exhibition party is in progress. On this very day there are two other graduate exhibition events, one at Monash University for their Industrial Design Program and one at Melbourne University for their Architecture Program.

Indeed, I mull, this exhibition of the honours students work is quite thought provoking. Some 60 students have set out to work for a whole year and many of them have taken on challenges such as making a product intervention for people with flat feet. How considerate an intervention.

Here are some of the projects that do this ‘taking on challenges’ in the healthcare space. My selection is not about selecting best projects, but more mercenary about what can I capture so I can send them on to my research collaborators within the local healthcare ecosystem.

(SOURCE: This is the website idProjects for the whole folio of works.)

Collective Cartography: The aim of this project is to generate a community-based navigation tool for visually impaired people. It offers to them the opportunity to contribute to their community by landmarking and reporting intersections, obstacles, unsafe areas, points of interest, and stories along the way. The landmarks are shared and accessible for all the community in real time; as a result, the different hazardous situations and events in the environment can be predicted every day.

Project Lily was developed in conjunction with mental health experts, it focuses on engaging users in developing behaviors that help them to regain a positive mental attitude.

Project Canary seeks to stream-line workplace safety information delivery, by integrating with existing practices and providing a new system foundation that will incorporate safety and productivity management. Individuals will receive task information, safety feedback, and accurate personal threat awareness warnings.

Orthokicks: The aim of the project is to propose a shoe design that responds to both acquired foot conditions and promotes foot health.

As we chat desultorily, as one is wont to do at these events, I begin to feel that I have to explain the sociology of the creative practitioner community. I have to explain why the Industrial Design community is not to be seen on rooftops shouting out their accomplishments. For one that is probably un-Australian! For another when you train problem solvers who you have browbeaten into designing with-people and not for people or even oneself (as in the iconoclast designer persona) you get a particular form of taciturn intellectual. (More about a sociology of the design practitioner community in a future post)

This current exhibition is more than a little startling in the intensity of the projects. Collectively there is enough innovation in this room to start a whole new startup ecosystem. At one extreme you have these young design students building working prototypes. This one below was my favourite this year for the sheer madness of the complexity – then imagine building this while a student. It was minutely detailed and had this mechanism to steer that is just a crazy delight.

EsCargo is an agile solution that augments localised delivery, but has the ability to cross the metropolitan area.

This post is then an acknowledgement of the work of the students and of their staff supervisors. Good on you all. Thank you for the intensity. A collective thanks to everyone else who was involved in these projects and this collective enterprise.

Finally to you who started this post off – thank you for sitting down with me to talk and for saying these lovely provocative things. Yes I agree this work was so very interesting.

By Soumitri Varadarajan

Soumitri lives in Melbourne, Australia - #probonodesign #codesign #sustainability #patientexperience #quantifiedself #mdg

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