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Collaborating with design students to make the world work better

  • 29 July 2020

There are flourishing design communities all over the UK, but for now at least, London is where most of the design jobs are concentrated. It’s where I work, but it’s a long way from where I studied. I went to university in Falmouth, Cornwall. Roughly 273 miles from London and the heart of industry I wanted to break into. That’s why Fridays were so important to me at university, because Fridays were when professional designers would make the trip down to Cornwall to share their practice with us. The time spent in 1-2-1s, workshops and lectures with visiting designers brought what we were studying to life. They made it real, creating a bridge between education and ‘the industry’. Showing us that we were already part of it, despite the physical distance. Since graduating I’ve worked to strengthen connections between design students and the industry. And today we’re collaborating with universities on workshops, talks, live briefs, critiques and more. What started as an opportunity to give something back has become a program of learning and development for both our designers and the students and universities we work with.

Designers working in groups at tables

Learnings for Students

The primary objective of the work we’ve done with universities has always been to share our experiences with students. We enjoy not only talking about the work that we do, but crucially how we do it. Sharing our practice, and as much as possible, getting the students to try it for themselves through collaborative workshops. By doing this we can help them to be better prepared for entering the industry. And to provide a more rounded view of the opportunities that are out there.

Learnings for Us

Collaborating with universities has provided just as many learning opportunities for us. First, as designers we’re able to better understand our practice by teaching it to others. But more broadly planning and delivering these projects is an opportunity for us to develop a range of skills from project management and facilitation to mentoring and leadership. The university classroom offers us a safe space, outside of client projects where we can hone our skills.

Designer working on his laptop

Making the world work better

Our purpose at Kin + Carta is to make the world work better. And we do that every day through the products and services that we deliver. Working with universities however, gives us the chance to tackle some big challenges that we’re not currently working on with our clients. Be it designing experiences to support dementia patients, or helping to make grocery shopping more sustainable. We’ve been able to develop briefs that really push at what it means to make the world work better. And those briefs are prompting new ideas and ways of thinking that we’ve been able to feed back into the work we’re doing right here and now.

It’s clear from the relationships we’ve built over the past few years that working with students is essential to the development of the design industry. Not only because it helps to build bridges between education and employment; exposing students to the real experience of working as a designer. But also because it makes us, the people already in those jobs better at what we do. Together we’re able to improve each other’s practice and raise our skill levels. Whilst also devising creative solutions to some of the World’s toughest challenges.

To read more about the work we’ve done with universities this academic year read our write-ups on Ravensbourne and Northumbria.

As we head into the new academic year we’ll be looking for new opportunities… so get in touch.

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