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A self-repair washing machine, a bee-friendly neighbourhood scheme and an app that provides more active and scenic routes for commuters are among the 16 cracking projects that won in the RSA Student Design Awards this year. 150 people came together at the RSA last week to celebrate the 2013 winners, take part in a spot of speed networking, and hear keynote speaker Kevin Owens talk about his experiences as Design Principal of the London 2012 Olympics.

Now in their 89th year, the RSA Student Design Awards is an annual competition that rewards students for coming up with innovative design-led solutions to today’s big challenges. Each year the RSA works with industry and university partners to develop a series of briefs focused around social, environmental and economic issues. We work closely with universities – in the UK and internationally – to support design students in applying their skills to research and respond to these problems. Their finished projects are then judged in person by a panel of experts, and winning students receive prizes that include cash awards, paid internships, and a complementary year of RSA Fellowship.

This year’s briefs addressed a range of pressing social issues, from improving workplaces and commuting to reducing waste and water pollution. There’s a full list of winners on the RSA Student Design Awards website, and our online exhibition will be going live soon – but for now, here are some snippets about a few of the winning projects:

  • Chris Redford from Sheffield Hallam University won a paid internship at branding agency Springetts for his ‘Tinker’ project; a radical stripped-back domestic washing machine that is designed to be repaired by the consumer without the need for a technician.
  • Chris Redford

    "I got the inspiration for my repairable washing machine from thinking about the number of times we dispose of entire products - especially large consumer appliances - when there might only be a single failed component. My design exposes the user to all the components so they can learn about its function and hopefully feel more confident about attempting to fix it.

    • Charles Anderson, who has just finished a degree in Graphic Design at Kingston University, won a paid internship at the Environment Agency for his scheme to reduce water pollution in the UK.
    • Charles Anderson_DIP

      His project, ‘Dump in Polystyrene’, is a service design solution for breaking down and recycling polystyrene that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

      “Since my childhood I have constantly been aware of the litter in the river and the influence it had on the local environment. Through my project research I learned about how water-borne animals mistake polystyrene for food. It clogs up their digestive system which starves the animal. Polystyrene also breaks up and releases pollutants into the soil formation. This project is about reducing polystyrene waste down to a manageable size. The current size-to-weight ratio targets mean that local councils can’t recycle it – so I designed a process that meets these targets.”

      • MA Design students Nicole Shadbolt and Meredith Thompson from Plymouth University each won a paid internship in Waitrose's Graphic Design team.
      • The Hive

        Responding to a brief asking for ideas to help people live more sustainably, 'The Hive' is a community improvement scheme focused on developing bee-friendly communities and educating people about the importance of the UK bee population.


        Rebecca Ford is the Assistant Manager of the RSA Student Design Awards.

        You can follow her @RebeccaPFord


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