The Future of Design

Wolverhampton Design Students
Liz Brown, M.D. and specialist Library Designer on the mutual benefits of providing Wolverhampton University design students with a real-life furniture project

As a former teacher, the experience of standing at the front of a classroom speaking to young people was a wonderful trip down Memory Lane and I enjoyed it immensely.

Whilst revisiting my former career was all very pleasant – especially with such switched on and interested students – what are the advantages of initiatives such as this?

Well, the main benefit for the students is that they are able to hone their skills on something that is ‘real’ rather than just theoretical or simply a course module. The aim of the project they are working on is that it will hopefully result in something we can take forwards and develop as a new product, so for the students there is an extra level of engagement that would perhaps otherwise not be there. It also gives them something concrete for their portfolio, as well as the experience of working with a company that is already active in the kind of industry in which they could eventually end up working. This will hopefully give them an edge in a highly competitive job market.  And then of course, there are the cash prizes...

For us, the advantages are self-evident. Although I hate to admit it, none of us here are getting any younger so having input from enthusiastic youngsters who are full of ideas is something that can only give our own designs a kick up the backside! I for one am definitely hoping to learn something from them that will benefit our company and help us to maintain our reputation for innovation. It also gives us access to a broad range of skills that we don’t necessarily have in-house to develop a brand new product, and the only cost to us is a bit of my time and a cash prize pot. It’s also a really great to be developing a relationship with the Faculty of Arts at Wolverhampton University. As they say, winner, winner!

The final outcome of the project obviously remains to be seen but for now, being involved with the next generation of designers in this way is incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to see what these fresh young minds come up with!