Overview: innovative, inclusive and international by design

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The Helen Hamlyn Research Associates Programme

Royal College of Art

Show and Symposium

Autumn 2004

message from the rector

Universities today operate in a climate in which it is not only desirable to interact with business but essential. The Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, commis-sioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has set the tone for a world in which academia and commerce move ever closer.

In this context, the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates Programme at the Royal College of Art is an exemplar of good practice. This year 16 RCA design graduates have teamed up with industry partners: the outcomes of their collaborative research hold the promise not only for socially inclusive new thinking in business but new products with broader appeal in the marketplace.

I am very grateful to our external partners, and to the Helen Hamlyn Foundation, for supporting the Research Associates 2004 and the College in the drive to engage with business in the community.

Professor Sir Christopher Frayling

Rector, Royal College of Art

message from Helen Hamlyn

The Research Associates Show and Symposium 2004 is the fifth in the series and marks an important milestone in the life of the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre.

It means that more than 50 Royal College of Art graduates, drawn from right across the spectrum of the design disciplines, have now completed the programme and are out in the working world.

During their time as research associates, each young designer will have engaged with the key principles of inclusive design on an industry project with practical application. Already we can see evidence of our former research associates using the skills and ideas they have acquired with the Research Centre in their professional lives.

This is very encouraging and I am sure that the Research Associates 2004 will also go on to do great things. I wish them every success during this event and in their future careers.

Helen Hamlyn

Founder, Helen Hamlyn Foundation

Jeremy Myerson Co-Director, Helen Hamlyn Research Centre

>overview: innovative, inclusive and international by design

2004 marked a year of firsts for the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates Programme. With the framework of interaction between new Royal College of Art graduates and industry research partners well-establishedover a five-year period, we decided to use our newest set of collaborations as a platform to innovate in a number of directions.

The programme’s research narratives were revised and expanded. For example, we introduced a ‘Health-check’ theme related to independent health and well-being. This builds on past projects looking at the design needs of older people and has long been an ambition of the Research Centre, given our record of research into design for patient safety.

Changing dynamics

With our ‘Open-house’ narrative, we pioneered a group of projects looking at inclusive design in relation to the changing dynamics of the home. This theme enables more cross-generational analysis and brings us closer to other centres of research expertise in the RCA, such as the AHRB Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior and the Interaction Design Research Studio.

With our ‘Office-age’ theme, we embarked on our first major international research collaboration – with the Faculty of Design at Kyushu University in Japan, whose projects are featured in the 2004 Show and Symposium. ‘Office-age’ deals with the impact of an ageing workforce on office design and gives the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre its own special angle in an area that we anticipate will grow in political and economic significance over the next few years.

Quality of life

And for those who argue that inclusive design thinking overlooks the power of technological change, we explored digital and sustainable technologies, through studies of public space and vehicle systems in our ‘City-light’ narrative, a long-standing theme which promotes design for urban quality of life.

We even planned our annual exhibition of projects
in a new way this year. To demonstrate our commitment to user-based design, our research associates worked with Visiting Doctoral Fellow Yanki Lee from Hong Kong Polytechnic University in a series of workshops to trial
a participative design process as part of her research. You can see the results in the RCA galleries.

To cap it all, we commissioned two filmmakers, Steve Connolly and Adam Clitheroe of Rewind Films, to make a documentary on the life of the Research associates 2004. This film is screened in the exhibition and captures some key moments from a year in which our talented research associates and our resourceful industry partners never stood still – and, between them, never failed to come up with the unexpected.

research partners

Capoco: an independent British design house founded in 1977 which specialises in fundamental design for city buses. It has worked for clients across the world – from the UK to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Africa. It is a founder partner in Newbus, a venture dedicated to advanced technology for passenger transport vehicles. Capoco’s Design Director Alan Ponsford is a world authority on accessible bus design.


Dams Internation: is now the largest manufacturer and supplier of office furniture in the UK. Formed in 1967, the company is at the forefront of mainstream commercial furniture design. It currently distributes product through retail, catalogue and office furniture dealer networks in the UK. Dams also has interests in Europe, as well as new ventures in China and North America; it is committed to developing products in many new market sectors.


DEGW: was founded in London in 1973. It is an international design consultancy that is focused on the planning and design of environments for working and learning. DEGW applies to design a unique research-based understanding of user needs, related to organisational and cultural change over time and at scales that range from the chair to the city. The firm aims to create solutions and environments that help organisations and their people to thrive.


The Faraday Packaging Partnership: is a powerful R&D network. Through access to the UK’s best academic and commercial experts, it generates new thinking, tools, techniques and processes for the design, manufacture and supply of packaging for fast-moving consumer goods. The Partnership provides insight, vision and R&D effort focused on increasing consumer value and realising novel pack concepts.


GlaxoSmithKline: is a world leading research-based pharmaceutical company with a combination of skills and resources that provides a platform for delivering strong growth in today’s healthcare environment. It has 85 manufacturing sites in 37 countries and manufactures almost 4 billion packs per year. GSK’s mission is to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association: provides guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services that meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people. Through extensive research into eye disease and high-profile campaigning, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is helping to push eye care up the nation’s health agenda.


Hewlett-Packard: a global manufacturer of computing, printing and imaging products, and solutions, services and consultancy. HP Laboratories is Hewlett-Packard’s central research organisation and its innovation engine. Recent emphasis has been on developing new ways of combining user research with both conceptual and industrial design.

IDEO: is an internationally renowned, user-centred, experience-focused design agency. Operating as a global network, its work explores new relationships between products, services and environments. IDEO has evolved from designing products to creating experiences and to consulting on the creative process itself.


Marks & Spencer: is one of the UK’s leading retailers of clothing, food, home products and financial services. Some 10 million people shop with Marks & Spencer each week in over 375 stores. Since first establishing ready meals in the UK over 30 years ago, Marks & Spencer has built a speciality food business, known for its quality, value, freshness and innovation.


The Orange Group: is one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies and a subsidiary of the France Telecom group, with operations in 19 countries across Europe and beyond. It provides a broad range of personal communications services and other digital cellular telephone services. At the end of June 2004, Orange-controlled companies had over 50 million customers worldwide.

Pearson Matthews: is a design consultancy that for many years has focused on healthcare, believing that design has a great deal to offer when used to make connections between individual, commercial and social needs. Our strategic futures thinking is matched by our proven ability to deliver – taking research and developing it through to ground-breaking products.


Philips: Royal Philips Electronics is one of the world’s biggest electronics companies with activities in the three interlocking domains of healthcare, lifestyle and technology and 165,600 employees in more than 60 countries. Philips Design is a multi-disciplinary community of researchers and designers within Philips, looking at how design can best serve people’s current and future values and needs.


Steelcase: is the world’s pre-eminent designer and manufacturer of products used to create high-performance work environments. Steelcase research explores the notion of work as a social activity and speculates about the role of office design in cultivating organisational culture. A main objective is the harmonious integration of architecture, furniture and technology to enable individuals and organisations to work more effectively.


Targetti Sankey SpA: is an international manufacturer of lighting products based in Italy. Its expertise in interior and exterior lighting and street furniture, combined with the foundation of its Lighting Academy La Sfacciata, underline its commitment to innovation across a wide range of lighting applications.

RCA departments

architecture and interiors

The Department of Architecture and Interiors is recognised as one of the most energetic architecture schools in Britain, an engine room for new ideas. Using London as a research platform and ‘live’ laboratory, its programme combines experiment with plausibility, working closely with specific areas and particular
groups of people.
Head of Department: Professor Nigel Coates; Academic Co-ordinator: Mark Garcia; Research Tutor: John Smith

communication art & design

The Department of Communication Art and Design reflects the multidisciplinary nature of contemporary communications. It combines the disciplines of Graphic Design and Illustration – both of which have an unrivalled track record at the RCA – to provide a creative and energetic working environment for the exploration, development and cross-fertilisation of ideas.Head of Department: Professor Dan Fern; Deputy Head: Jeff Willis; Senior Tutors: Professor Andrzej Klimowski, Jon Wozencroft

design products

The Department of Design Products does not embrace any one design ideology or favour a specific style. Its purpose is to create a culture engaged in an on-going debate about all aspects of design that thrives on new ideas, new ways of doing things and new areas of exploration and risk-taking.
Head of Department: Professor Ron Arad; Deputy Head: Hilary French

industrial design engineering

The Department of Industrial Design Engineering celebrates the fusion of industrial design and engineering with products and systems that address
the whole spectrum of human experience. At MA level, its joint course with Imperial College provides a detailed education and training in industrial design professional practice for graduate engineers. The Department actively encourages funded research.
Head of Department: Professor Tom Barker

interaction design

As new technologies develop, new fields of design emerge. This Department is a pioneer in the field of interaction design – the design of interactive products, services, systems and experiences. Leading companies both employ its graduates and support the Interaction Design Research Studio. Although concerned with emerging technologies, its focus is on people.

Head of Department: Professor Irene McAra-McWilliam; Research Administrator: Lynn Williams

vehicle design

The Department of Vehicle Design pioneers new approaches for our mobile futures. Central to its work is an understanding of the broader issues of vehicle design necessary to optimise opportunities for mobility: accessibility, aerodynamics, environmental impact, ergonomics, legislation, materials, production, safety and technology, as well as aesthetic principles.
Head of Department: Dale Harrow; Research Co-ordinators: Helen Evenden, Paul Ewing, Andrew Nahum
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