WantedDesign Keeps Students Connected With Conscious Design Awards and Online Workshops

A glimpse at the RISD Online Showcase for graduates of the school's Department of Furniture Design. Photography courtesy of WantedDesign. 

Following suit with the majority of industry events this year, WantedDesign hosted its Conscious Design Best Student Project Awards in a virtual format. The event, which typically takes place during NYCxDESIGN, enables students to showcase their work and connect with a multitude of design professionals. But that's not all. To further expand opportunities for emerging designers, WantedDesign collaborated with The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States as part of Oui Design to launch a French/American online design workshop with schools across the pond and, separately, hosted an online showcase for Rhode Island School of Design seniors in the Department of Furniture Design.

“We thought: We need to work on something that cannot replace [in-person programming] but can for sure help students to start their career in some way,” said Odile Hainaut, who along with Claire Pijoulat founded WantedDesign, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. The virtual awards program, which features student projects from across the globe, gives emerging designers an opportunity to connect with the broader A&D community at a time when traditional networking events are nonexistent. “The goal is really to bring students together… to give them a chance to be seen; it’s very collaborative,” added Hainaut.

Julia Liverton from Pratt Institute took home the Best Conscious Design Award for HanD Pen, an innovative insulin pen for adults with difficulty gripping smaller objects. Photography courtesy of Julia Liverton. 

The Conscious Design Awards, which received more than 100 submissions, launched last year as a way to encourage students to pursue design projects that benefit others. The jury, which included Metropolis Editor in Chief Avinash Rajagopal and other industry experts, selected seven winners: Julia Liverton, Pratt Institute (U.S.), with HanD Pen for Best Conscious DesignMitja Behnke, Strate – School of Design (France), with InEurope – A Manifesto for Solidarity Borders for Original Concept and DesignJordyn Aamot, ArtCenter College of Design (U.S), with Enliven and Sara Howard, Central St Martins (U.K.), with Circular Ceramics for Sustainable SolutionIsabel Cano Anaya, CENTRO (Mexico), with Piccolo: the diabetic bunny and Theodore Scoufis, SVA (USA), with FireLink: Fighting Fire with Data for Project with Social ImpactNathan Agranat, Solène Lombard, and Sylvie Nguyen, Paris Institue of Art and Design, Ecole Estienne (France), with Biotopia for Ready to Be Implemented; as well as two Honorable Mentions. 

A closer look at how HanD Pen is designed to meet the needs of older adults with arthritis and diabetes. Graphic courtesy of Julia Liverton. 

Similar to the Conscious Design Awards, WantedDesign's French/American online workshop also challenged students to focus on design projects for the greater good, ranging from sustainable transportation to health solutions. Together, students from six French schools and five U.S. schools teamed up and exchanged ideas over platforms such as Slack and Zoom. “Some students were deeply affected by confinement and being isolated and took this as an opportunity to connect,” said Hainaut. “It really gave all of all of them a sense of belonging—it’s very rewarding to see that. The bond seems even more important than in the previous year.” 

Students connected over Zoom to give their final presentations for the French/American online design workshop. Photography courtesy of WantedDesign.

Throughout the summer, WantedDesign will continue promoting student work across its various platforms. “We realized how exciting, inspiring, and interesting it is to give voice to young designers—they are the ones coming up with the most interesting solutions,” said Pijoulat. “We want to continue to give them a space for that voice.”  

Student designer Sara Howard from Central Saint Martins in the U.K. created a tableware collection made from recycled industrial waste called Circular Ceramics, which won for Sustainable Solution. Photography courtesy of Sara Howard. 

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