Category Archives: Design show

The Best Graduate Project at New Designers


Stephen Douch‘s project, Last Orders, is one of the very few projects that have stuck in my memory from New Designers. Too often New Designers is a load of unoriginal, not innovative, same old regurgitated ideas. Stephen was studying a design MA at Central Saint Martins under one of my old tutors Matt Malpass.


The project deals with something deeper than designer’s typical concerns. It doesn’t come from a place totally preoccupied with design theory about form and function. It comes from a place of social concern. It’s about our societal norms and problems. Our British relationship with death is not necessarily as healthy as it could be. Last Orders attempts to improve the services around death, for the person who dies as well as people around them.

And it’s all done with a huge attention to detail: the user experience is meticulously thought out. The designer had an answer for every question I could think to ask. He is actively seeking partners to take this idea forward, so please do get in contact (contact details upon request) – particularly if you work in the Department of Work and Pensions.


In Stephen Douch’s words:
It is becoming too expensive for the poor to die. The average cost of dying has risen by 80% since 2004 to £7,622 and almost 1 in 5 people intend to leave their funeral cost to family and friends or the State. Society faces a perfect storm of economic stagnation, an aging population and a poverty gap not seen since the Victorian era. Without change we may see a return of the pauper’s funeral.

This proposal is intended to explore how death poverty can be addressed against a backdrop of state welfare cuts, where providing more money simply isn’t an option. It explores the role death rituals play in modern British society and critiques the material culture found in the funeral industry.

The goal of this study is to understand if benefits can be gained by de-sanitising death, and attempts to leverage rampant individualism to re-imagine modern death rituals. In changing preconceptions to funeral rites this study highlights that both the poor and wider society can regain ownership of their deaths but concludes with a need to reconsider legislative and political ideology.


The Product
A joint public and private sector service which enables people to plan for their end of life, free of charge. Last Orders brings families together to help plan for the future and prepares them for the eventual passing of a loved one.

Last Orders is a global approach to issues surrounding death poverty. It attempts to exclude stigmatisation through inclusivity. By people choosing to be different it will become more acceptable to make economy funeral choices. Although this may have its detractors they will have to contend with the fact that it’s “what he/she would have wanted”. It’s hard to contend with that statement when the person who made it has died.

In Issuing their Last Orders individuals perform a selfless act which provides emotional support to loved ones and breaks reliance on the state. It aims to break down the taboos surrounding death through frank conversations, freeing people from the standardised funeral by focussing on their preferences for simplicity, certainty and affordability.


Graphic design guidance: Maki Ota.

Talk to the designer: email him at or follow him on Twitter.

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Enabling Technology: Creating an Inclusive Approach to Digital Technology


RCA Battersea is a long way from Bounds Green, or anywhere else that I normally go. On arrival at the Dyson Building, the exhibition seems small and it makes you doubt whether it was worth the journey. But IT DEFINITELY IS. Invest a bit of time in understanding the ideas. They’re all condensed into a relatively tiny amount of space for the scope they reach. Enabling Technology was my favourite project. It made me consider the problems that people with disabilities encounter every day. We take our sight and movement for granted. I never imagined until the point I saw the project that it might be difficult for someone to use a computer mouse.

IMG_2839_forweb Continue reading

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Tuesday night, London Design Week

Last night we went on the party trail around Shoreditch for London Design Week. Fortuitously we timed most things perfectly – bumping in to friends who knew the person on the door (thank you for going in to PR Sarah), or coming very early so the door people wanted to fill up the space, or so late that they didn’t care any more.

The variety was brilliant – Lee Broom‘s party and Masion Trois Garcons parties had cocktails and canapes a-flowing in beautiful settings. I was genuinely impressed by some of the work on display – images to follow.
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Upcoming events I’m going to

DB 16
19-22 Sept

Designersblock Edition 16 takes place in partnership with Southbank Centre.
Inspire — Experience — Interact— Explore
New furniture, lighting, textiles, ceramics and jewellery from 60 Uk and International independent designers.
International pavilions – Ung Svensk Form – La Tlapaleria diseno mexicano – India Art n Design
Designers in Production – New work from established designers and companies.
The Fifth element – Science Tecnology and Process in Design – 30 cutting edge projects.
Programme – Conference Workshops Screenings Presentations

19-22 Sept

How to replicate social impact across the UK: Research launch
26 Sept

Why do so many high potential social change organisations fail to scale up and replicate? What can they, you, and the sector, do to change this?

The International Centre for Social Franchising ( will be sharing insights to answer these questions based on research for Big Lottery Fund. Findings, based on a survey of 150 social organisations and in-depth interviews with 15, will include the main barriers facing social organisations attempting to replicate and interventions to address them. The event will be valuable for both organisations seeking to improve scale up across the social sector in the UK and those replicating their own projects. Speakers from the ICSF, Big Lottery Fund and interviewees from the research will address the audience for 40 minutes, after which there will be drinks, light snacks and networking.

ClearlySo Tea Time Q
12 Sept and 14 Nov

ClearlySo invites you to come in to our offices for a chat over tea and coffee.
This is a perfect opportunity to meet in an informal environment, discuss all sorts of issues affecting you and your business – and get your caffeine fix at the same time!!!
Entrepreneurs, existing or prospective will be invited to ask anything, challenge us or just listen in. The session will be chaired by one of our senior investment team. It’s a chance for us to give out advice and take advantage of the peer learnings and relationships that develop during each of ClearlySo popular tea-time gatherings.

KK Outlet
12-28 Sept

To celebrate the London Design Festival this September, KK Outlet and leading food, arts, and culture journal The Gourmand are combining forces to present a series of exhibitions, talks, and dinners that celebrate food as a catalyst for creativity.

Perfume, Sir? – Designmarketo
17-21 Sept

Enter DesignMarketo’s world of fragrance. Discover Pepper under new forms. Enjoy specially commissioned objects by a range of versatile designers, scents, flavours, workshops, fine dining and cocktails inspired by and infused with Pepper!

Only one week to explore your senses and experience anew. See the ordinary as unordinary…

RCA Battersea Projects: Mind The Gap
15-23 Sept

How to introduce spontaneity and play into highly controlled environments, such as train stations?
RCA Battersea Projects: Life Examined – by the Helen Hamlyn Research Associates 2013
15-23 Sept

Life Examined is a presentation of design projects by the 2013 Helen Hamlyn Research Associates that could help improve people’s lives. Socrates famously observed that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Here the theme of ‘life examined’ reflects the emphasis on in-depth user research with different groups of people.

Generally I will be hopping around the Brompton Design District next weekend.

Mindapples: Meet Your Mind
25 Sept

You rely on your mind for everything you do, but how much do you know about how it works, or how to use it?
Join us for our upcoming event, part of the Mindapples’ Your Mind: A User’s Guide series, to learn about how your mind works and how to get the most from it.
Featuring interactive exercises exploring how we think, how to take care of our minds and how we influence each other, this is a fun introduction to mental wellbeing and using your mind effectively in life and work.

Here’s one that I want to go to but can’t:

The Happy Start-Up School Summer Camp
20 Sept

Whether you’re at the idea stage, have already started up or are just looking for inspiration on how to build a happy company, this day will help you get better at business and life. A hands-on day of workshops and talks where you’ll learn how to create a happy, thriving business, meet some amazing people and have some fun in a stunning location in the heart of Hyde Park. We promise it will be a day to remember.

See you there!

All images are from respective linked-to websites.

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The Happiness Machine

Alice Osborne and Ella Britton have created a Letter Writing Machine. They put it into action on Saturday at the Knee High Play Space in Gabriel’s Wharf. Continue reading

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Events for February – book now

There are several events and exhibitions in London this month that are worth going to.
Please click through to the links to book places on talks. Continue reading

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RCA Design Interactions and Design Products – Introductory Text

Having had a good look around the RCA Kensington show, I made the pilgrimage (despite a bus strike) to the RCA Battersea site for the annual RCA Design show, which I always find inspirational. I wasn’t disappointed. Here’s the intro text for the show, which is very useful in providing a background of understanding for the projects (posts to follow). Continue reading

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Highlights from RCA Kensington show

I came to the RCA in Kensington to see the Design Interactions graduate show… but it wasn’t there! This year they were in the Battersea site (images coming soon). All the same, I had a good look around. The jewellery graduates had a good show, including this lady (images above and below) whose work was performance embroidery. I can’t remember how she justified this as jewellery but it seemed like a good explanation at the time. Someone had designed some cutlery and called it jewellery, and explained it awfully – so not every graduate from the course was amazing. Continue reading

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Textile Futures MA 2012 at Central Saint Martins

Textile Futures is a critical design course focusing on textiles. It had some of the most interesting concepts at the degree shows this year.
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Designs of the Year 2012: Technology

Increasingly technology is my favourite bit of design at these shows. This new smart material at Designs of the Year at the Design Museum made me really excited. Continue reading

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