Two Industrial Design graduates win Gold at the Creative Conscience awards

Two recent Industrial Design & Technology graduates win Creative Conscience awards for their creative approach to their winning projects which have the potential impact to influence real tangible change for good.

The awards are open to creatives from around the world and aims to encourage students and graduates (of up to 2 years) to leverage creative skills to develop unique solutions to global problems. They are invited to submit a winning project relating to one of their six impact themes. These include; Community, Education & Learning, Environment & Sustainability, Equality & Justice, Health, Wellbeing & Disability, and War & Crisis. 

Supported through Industrial Design Studies 3 (IDS3) at Loughborough University, a final year module as part of the Industrial Design & Technology course, it is built on equipping students as ethically minded designers, which opens up opportunities to submit their projects to the Creative Conscience awards. The winning students chose to become involved in the competition as it was an opportunity to move beyond the “pretty visuals and concepts” offered in a traditional product design setting, as well as the briefs being aimed more towards tackling real issues that our world faces today. Each one provided them with the perfect opportunity to push curiosity and to create a design solution which could truly help build a fairer, healthier and more sustainable world.

Arnaud Gillard chose to respond to the 'Conscious Consumption Challenge', aimed at addressing our unsustainable way of life, and an opportunity to create solutions towards avoiding self-destruction.

Throughout his five months of developing his proposal, he conducted extensive research and explored many potential avenues, with the ultimate goal of understanding the root-cause of the problem. 

Arnaud explains that:

"The research concluded that ‘conscious consumerism’ as a concept is flawed. We cannot simply ‘buy’ our way out of the climate crisis. And if we do consume consciously, the relative impacts are only marginal, compared to the effort needed. For many years, corporations and governments have placed a huge burden on individual consumers, expecting them to spend more money on “eco products” and deal with the waste afterwards. And because of this, little accountability and responsibility is held on these corporations, who manipulate consumers to consume favourably to their economic models.

What is needed is government action and legislation. Yet our current system is broken. Trust has been eroded between citizens and leaders. Whereby money, power and popularity presides over what is best for the community and nation."

Loud Voices diagram

Arnaud responded to this with his winning project, LoudVoices, a digital interface for a new type of democracy. Aimed at re-establishing trust and effectiveness in our communities’ ability to deal with our current crises. It leverages blockchain and theories of Liquid Democracy (a hybrid between direct democracy and representational democracy) to enable this. In short, it’s an App that allows you to propose and vote on new legislation directly or allows you to delegate your powers in an effective manner to someone better equipped at making that decision.

Illustration showing different Loud Voices smart phone screens

Speaking of his award, Arnaud says that:

"It feels fantastic to have been selected as an award winner from Creative Conscience. Having this opportunity gives the proposal a sense of credibility and begins a needed and valuable topic of discussion. When winning an award from Creative Conscience, you not only win a token of success, but also access to a strong network of creative change makers. Which to me, is much more valuable, as it is through this collective action that we can address our global problems."

Fellow Industrial Design & Technology graduate, Oliver Picot also submitted a winning project to the 'Conscious Consumption Challenge' and took a slightly unusual angle, and decided to look at death.

No one likes thinking about the end of their life, but at some point, we all have to. Whether it’s what we want our funerals to be like or how we wish our body to be disposed of, there are many decisions to make. The problem is that most people don’t realise the impact their decisions have. Current end of life solutions were never designed for long term use. They are archaic, unsustainable and incredibly wasteful. Furthermore, humans over time have adopted capitalist-driven, consumerist habits, making these solutions even worse. 

Let me explain, says Oliver:

"Regardless of what you believe, for 100,000s of years it has been common practise for humans to bury corpses. However, we have reached a point now that because the population is so high, more people are dying than ever before and therefore more space is being taken up and needed for grave sites (the average burial plot takes up 32sq ft of land) and more resources are being consumed in the process. The US, every year diverts enough concrete for the production of burial vaults to lay a two-lane highway halfway across America. Each year the metal used for caskets is enough to completely rebuild the golden gate bridge, the average 10-acre cemetery contains enough coffin wood to construct more than 40 homes and enough toxic formalin (used in embalming process) to fill a backyard swimming pool. It could, therefore, be argued that todays grave yards are simply spiritual landfills."

A person holding a Requiem urn, about to place it inside a hole made in a tree trunk

Oliver's solution to this is Requiem, a speculative, future facing, resource saving, end of life solution which challenges the unsustainable and wasteful, capitalist driven, burial habits of today. It does this by combining the best green alternatives into one simple package, meaning a user is able to leave this world guilt free, knowing they did their part. The solution works by using Resomation, a process which breaks the body down to bone ash (fertilizer). This bone ash is then inserted in a biodegradable urn and placed within a hole drilled into a fully-grown tree. By doing this we are protecting forests by giving them a sentimental value which, in turn, will discourage future deforestation and consuming less land compared to traditional burials.

Ultimately, this new end of life solution saves both physical space and resources. The system has been redesigned to remove environmentally damaging processes as well as waste. While still providing a loving and sensitive send off.

an illustration of 5 Requiem screens for a smart phone with a woodland background

Oliver explains how it feels to win the award and how it has helped his career:

"Seeing the email come through telling me I had won was an amazing feeling! Winning any award obviously feels great, but this especially resonated with me as it acknowledged that my idea could make a real difference and help build a better future for our planet.

After completing my placement year I knew I wanted to pursue a career in UX. This module allowed me to design not only a physical product but also a system and an app to run along side it, making it the ideal project for talking about at job interviews. It certainly helped me land a graduate job which strangely enough I will be starting on the day of the Creative Conscious awards ceremony."