The Royal College of Art opened its doors to a private viewing of the projects of its second year students at the annual Works in Progress show in London this week. Intended to show the projects students are currently developing for the final degree show later this year, the show included the work of 20 students as well as a project sponsored by Jaguar.
A collaboration between students enrolled in the school’s Textile Design and Vehicle Design programs, the Jaguar sponsored project brief called for the designers to envision either a B-segment sized vehicle for the British carmaker or a sports car. The positioning and number of seats was left up to the designer.
The results of the sponsored project will be reviewed by the Jaguar team and three models will be built to scale and shown at the final graduation show in June, just as the Range Rover project was last year.
Other projects ranged from urban and sports cars to vehicles intended for modern day rally racing. Some of the highlights were Javier Gallardo’s autonomous (yet exciting) Origins ‘wearable car’ concept, Tao Ni’s Haute Couture roadster proposal created in collaboration with textile designer Yuan Tian, a vehicle focusing on the mental health and well-being of its user by Kate Darley, and Paul Piliste’s innovative Guilt Free Thrills and Uber Nano concepts.
I was also drawn in by the Luna and Boxpark concepts by Cameron Smith (he created the entire display by hand himself) and Frederik Vanden Borre’s nascent Design for All proposal. His board integrated a stack of Post It notes and a pen so visitors could share their idealized vision for future mobility in urban environments; feedback he’ll take on board as he develops his final project.
But not all of the work on show was actively being developed into a final thesis project. A lot of what I saw were already completed projects from portfolios — work that has little or no bearing on what the students are currently working on. Which is a shame really.
One of the main reasons I like going to the Works in Progress show is to speak with the designers and find out their thought processes — What issues are they considering? What questions are they asking? And how do they intend to develop it into a coherent form? It’s also great to be able to have a conversation with students in a more relaxed environment, where they’re not overly anxious about trying to find a job and can practice their presentation skills for the day they will be.
Surely the main point of the Works in Progress show is to get feedback, gain clarity of vision and hone in on the final design presentation. It’s important to have that dialogue ensue. Design is never made in a bubble. Those who didn’t have — or chose not to — show a work in progress to their peers and industry professionals in attendance only have themselves to blame for missing out on an opportunity.