GSA Product Design Degree Show: Designs For Life

The Product Design Degree Show at the Glasgow School of Art presents a diverse selection of work from graduating Bachelors and Masters students, that casts thought on to the role of design within society

Feature by Santini Basra | 29 Jun 2015
  • Museum of Madness

The Product Design Degree Show at the Glasgow School of Art presents graduating Bachelors and Masters students' work as a diverse and colourful portrait of the potential of design and design-led approaches in dealing with and navigating contemporary issues. The body of work defies the prevailing perception of design, and instead attempts to classify the discipline as a means to “research and explore, to understand and empathise, to communicate and co-create in a meaningful way”, while also suggesting a broader classification for the term ‘product’, in which it not only describes artefacts, but also services, experiences and interactions.

The show covers an impressive diversity of subjects, ranging from topics surrounding death, to the sentimentality we attach to our personal possessions, and the issues autism poses in the realm of social integration. Ultimately the work on show serves as an engaging documentation, challenge and speculation on the role of technology and design in the society we inhabit. As a brief taster, a selection of projects are featured below:

The Museum of Madness by Hannah Steele, Sue-Shen Chan, Struan Wood, Robert Kaysen and William Coltart

The Museum of Madness proposes a travelling museum designed to be transported and installed across the UK to raise awareness and challenge the stigmas of mental health. Constructed through multi-sensorial modular shipping containers, it is designed in collaboration with local creative agencies and mental health associations. The audience receives an engaging experience of mental illnesses and symptoms that give the audience a ‘taste of madness’.

Projecting an experience that challenges the initial comprehension of mental illness encourages visitors to explore the stigmas and challenges of such conditions, this immersion urges the audience to question the complexity of their own perceived sanity. The goal of the museum is to create a thorough understanding through empathy. This should result in an increased awareness of mental illness, challenging the audience’s own ideas of ‘madness’ and question if madness is as crazy as they think it is.

Designing (In)Equality by Lewis Just

In the last fifty years the gap between rich and poor has dramatically grown, making income inequality a defining challenge of our time. Inequality has developed from the workings of unrestricted capitalism and broken institutions, propped up by failing democracies lacking strong workers' rights. But what can be done to tackle such systemic problems?

Created in collaboration with the third sector, the Inequality Institute challenges attitudes and outlooks on inequality. By creating engaging and playful spaces for open conversation, people can further their understanding of the causes of inequality, develop their empathic skills and, ultimately take concrete action towards a fairer society.

In 2015 the Inequality Restaurant opened its doors, catering to a predominantly millennial audience, determined to make a positive impact on the world. Diners first discover their fortune with the lottery-of-birth scratch cards revealing whether they will be ‘rich’ or ‘poor’ for the meal. When soup is unevenly served in favour of the ‘rich’, diners can use the taxation ladle to redistribute the portions. For dessert, ‘rich’ diners can slice up the trickle-down lemon drizzle cake, while the crumbs fall down for everyone else to fight over. Finally, instead of signing for the bill, diners are offered to sign a petition and join the movement to a fairer, more equal society.

Amplify by Peter Eastwood

Seeking future applications of synthetic biology, Amplify is a speculative design proposal focussing on enhancing physical attraction from the male perspective, and illustrating potential interactions that could occur in the near future. In social situations a lot of men are apprehensive when approaching someone they find attractive for fear of rejection or ‘the knock back.’ Amplify seeks to change that. Androstadienone is the naturally occurring pheromone said to give men sex appeal, but tragically only 10% of men secrete enough for it to be detected by females. A ‘home-brewing’ kit that integrates into the male grooming ritual, Amplify is a proposal that allows the other, less fortunate 90% of the male population to extract and multiply sex pheromones from their own sweat, amplifying their sex appeal as well as their confidence.

Schizophonic Memories by Claudia Ioana Vasiliu

Schizophonic Memories considers how something as abstract and ephemeral as everyday sound could be employed to create a meaningful engagement with our past, present and future. A life under audition instead of under observation.

Focusing on our relationship with the domestic sonic environment a series of artefacts is proposed that do not exist yet as real commodities, but as projections of possible futures. By recording personal sonic experiences and playing back certain instances, a ‘schizophonic performance’ act begins to define the relationship between the user and artefact. The sound archives would act both as a collection of personal histories and also provide a library of ‘real’ audio characters/characteristics with which to fill the spaces in your home.

Product Design Degree Show, Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art, 13-20 June, Free Admission, and Fish Island Labs, Hackney Wick, London, 25-26 June, Free Admission