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– Written by Abbey Bamford – July 2, 2024

Inaugural Design Truth Award celebrates state school education

TDC PR sponsored last night’s award event alongside Kingfisher, where we got to personally congratulate Sam Russell for his innovative and inclusive winning project.

Design Truth wrapped up its inaugural student award last night with a celebration of its winner and all those who entered at The Hawk’s Nest in Shepherds Bush. 

Nottingham Trent University’s Sam Russell took home the award and will now receive paid work experience at leading design studios Studio Wood & Aetha Design, as well as mentorship from industrial designer Nick Chubb and free tickets to future Design Truth events. 

Russell’s final year project, titled Janus, is a smart speaker device featuring a screen that gives a written transcript of the request and answer, alongside an AI-assisted camera system which recognises sign language. QUOTE FROM RUSSELL

Design Truth founder Brad Harper says that this project “encapsulated the spirit of the award” as it tackles price discrimination, harnesses new technology for good, and “presents what design should be all about”. 

But in an industry already saturated with competitions and prizes, why should we care about this one? 

One thing that sets the Design Truth Award apart from the rest is that it was set up to celebrate state school education, which is unfortunately suffering under the pressure of budget cuts and lack of teachers. 

Design & Technology in particular has been decimated from the curriculum, a subject that many industrial designers will have studied during their school days. As part of last night’s ceremony, TDC’s founder Tim Duncan spoke on the current state of design education in a short address. 

Tim highlighted the current uncertainty surrounding the future of Design & Technology in schools as well as encouraging everyone to get behind the Design & Technology Association’s manifesto and initiatives to save and grow D&T education. He also noted why awards like this are so important to diversifying the industry, and ensuring that creative subjects are accessible to all.

TDC PR was the main sponsor for the award event and has an ongoing relationship with Design Truth, putting it at the centre of the industrial design sector which has been affected by the uncertain economy as well as a lack of diversity as of late.

The design economy as a whole is suffering, according to Harper, with opportunity, recognition, and investment becoming increasingly hard to obtain. “We wanted to create a system in which our winner receives all three and create an award that speaks for the people, not a trophy for another piece of overpriced furniture,” he says. 

Judges for this year’s award were Bournemouth-based Studio Wood founder and creative director James Wood, Morrama creative lead Léa Berger, manufactured.design founder Dan Barnes, Brighton-based technology company gomi co-founder Tom Meades and creative practice consultant Helen Liang.

gomi also designed and made the award itself, which was carved from melted down waste plastic bags and created to focus attention on our future. “Our brief was to create something beautiful, memorable and that would fit on the desk without getting in the way”, says Harper.

Offcuts from the making process have been melted down, and pressed into a custom range of power banks will be given to those on the final shortlist of five.

Other honourable mentions from the entries included University of Leeds student Rosie Monteith, Loughborough University’s Riess Fernandes & Oliver Heath, Manchester Metropolitan University’s Dexter Wisby, and George Cooper from Ravensbourne University.

You can find out more about the award on the Design Truth website.