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Four School of Art & Design students shortlisted in the RSA Student Awards

The global competition asks students to work on a brief related to social, environmental and economic issues

A man and woman crouched down wearing activewear and t-shirts designed by Textile Design students
Designs by Rachel Ward and Julia Parsonage for the Material World brief

The RSA Student Design Awards is a global competition for students and recent graduates to tackle social, environmental and economic issues through design thinking.  The awards, established in 1924, recognise the need for creative approaches to the world’s complex and systemic challenges. This year, students had a range of eight design briefs to choose from.

Although this competition was open to undergraduate and postgraduate students at any university in the world, Nottingham Trent University has seen four of it’s Art & Design students shortlisted for awards.

BA (Hons) Textile Design students Rachel Ward and Julia Parsonage answered the Material World brief. The brief asked: How might we apply biomimicry to create textiles, processes or systems that enhance nature?

Rachel told us: “2 million Olympic sized swimming pools of water are used every year in the textile dyeing process alone, containing toxic chemicals which get filtered straight into many communities’ waterways costing $8.7 billion dollars in healthcare a year. We created Chamo, a sustainable clothing brand which aims to eradicate the need for the textile dyeing process altogether. Through expanding and contracting microscopic ribs, the material is able to refract different wavelengths of light to give the illusion of the garment changing colour.

This will not only help safeguard the world’s water sources for years to come, it will also help to make fashion trends more inclusive and accessible, reducing the negative effects of fast fashion.

Being shortlisted for the RSA Material Worlds competition was a huge surprise- we still can’t believe it! We loved collaborating on this project together and we’re so excited to see where it takes us. The course at NTU has been amazing in facilitating cross disciplinary work, and the tutors have been incredible at supporting us along the way.”

Fashion illustrations - a line up of garments
Poppy Howell's designs inspired by the city of Hull

MA Fashion Design student Poppy Howell has been nominated in the brief ‘For the long time’ which asked how might we encourage people and community to think and act for the long term?

Poppy commented on how it feels to be nominated: “I entered into the RSA Student Design competition in the category ‘For The Long Time’ which is about how can we help people see the long term effects of climate change to help influence our actions for positive change. My project is called ‘Solastalgia’ and I am creating a fashion collection that is inspired by my hometown of Hull and how it is affected by flooding and rising sea levels, which I hope to exhibit.

I was thrilled to be shortlisted, and it is very exciting to be presenting my project to the judges. I have loved studying MA Fashion Design at NTU as I have been really challenged but supported and developed in a lot of different skills and areas within fashion design.”

An animated retro style game two characters 'Shareholder' and 'Future Holder' are about to Fight.
Issy Bradford's Animation for the Moving Pictures brief

Finally, Issy Bradford, who studies BA (Hons) Graphic Design, answered the Moving Pictures brief. The brief asked students to conceive and produce an animation to accompany one of two selected audio files that will clarify, energise and illuminate the content.

Issy told us: "In the style of a retro video game, my animation accompanies the audio ‘How to be a Good Ancestor’ by Roman Krznaric. It highlights the importance of sustainability and how the choices we make now can affect future generations. I was quite surprised to be shortlisted! But I’m glad that the time and effort that I put into it has really paid off. The support has been amazing from both my friends and tutors at NTU. Even throughout the lockdowns, the course has still provided a lot of resources to help me navigate through my final year"

The School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University wishes these students the best of luck as they progress to interview stage. The winners of the awards will be announced in late June.