06 July 2008 by David Bott
It must be that time of year, but I have spent 2 evenings at the Royal College of Art. They set other events in the context of their end of year SHOW – I say that because it says SHOW in 20 ft high letters outside the RCA as you turn up.
The first of these was an evening hosted by Professor Clare Johnston, a long time friend of MADE and materials science in general. The event was a reception within the SHOW for the Textiles Department. My time in Courtaulds taught me that there is a lot of science and technology in the area, but I saw only one other materials person there. Granted the Pilkingtons reception held in the Vehicle Design area next door might have been a more obvious choice, but the breadth and extent of the imagination on display in the Textiles section would prompt even the most cynical materials scientist of the richness of opportunity here.
The second event was a larger affair – the RCA Innovation Night. It was largely fronted by the Helen Hamlyn Centre. This started with the Awards ceremony (follow the links from above), which provided a neat guide for those of us from outside to the actual exhibits. The mix of people was broader, with colleagues from the Technology Strategy Board, Design Council and several other organisations mingling with the students and academics.
What struck me, as it does every time I spend time with designers, is that they are hungry for information about materials. Design is the beginning of many new products and services and starting with what is wanted is a good way to challenge what we already have. As I posted last time I have come to strongly believe that the materials community has lots to gain from interacting more widely with the design community, and that the design community already knows this. So, my advice if you want a new challenge in materials science, or even a new use for your current work, is to go visit your local design college. You might be surprised what you learn.