Review : New 'Made in Brunel' Book and Exhibition About Design.

Made In Brunel 250 Innovative Ideas Book

Made in Brunel is the brand by which the school of Design and Engineering at Brunel University in the UK showcases its graduate talent. In June 2010 Made In Brunel presented an exciting exhibition at the Business Design centre London. There is also a high quality, stimulating and inspiring companion hardcopy book called 250 Innovative Ideas.

250 Innovative ideas is a balanced mix of  text and visuals. There are insightful articles from guest contributors including Sung Han Kimm the Head of Design at Samsung Europe and also from Brunel graduates. Interspersed in between the articles are images and text depicting design work from students on a wide range of design courses. High quality photography of product models and well- constructed prototypes bring the projects to life and further strengthen the communication of the ideas. The result is a book that you can either read from cover to cover or dip in and out of, to connect with original ideas, thinking and design work.

The main chapters cover sustainable innovation, technical innovation, humanistic innovation, and virtual innovation. Within each chapter are many examples of product concepts. Some of these have been designed to align with the strategy of well known major brands including Bridgestone and Body Shop within the Sustainable Innovation chapter, Land Rover in Technical Innovation, Crayola in the Humanistic Innovation section and Starbucks in Virtual Innovation.

Favourite projects of mine include the simple but effective single use eco seating for the events market and the rota lock which both immobilizes a bicycle as well as prevents theft of the wheel.

Prior to taking the brave step to design for these iconic brands the design teams undertook a thorough strategic analysis of their chosen brand to understand current and potential future positioning and brand values. They also looked to identify the challenges the brands face and where the opportunities lay for brand stretch. The Crayola analysis threw up a fascinating challenge – how to take the Crayola brand forward, a brand that is essentially about physical messy creativity characterised by crayons – into today’s world where children are exposed to digital toys and media from the very moment they can sit up?

One of the key things that jumps out from the book is how many students chose design projects focusing on social change, helping the disadvantaged and those with special needs. Also how the need for sustainability in design and innovation is integral.

These factors indeed characterise this generation of designers and differentiate them from earlier generations. That is what makes this book such a fascinating and stimulating read for anyone – but particularly for those of us who are not of the same generation as these students!

In Made In Brunel the young designers are seeking to address the problems that concern them and which, if solved would help move the world closer to being the world that they want to live in.

I hazard a guess that had there been a Made in Brunel book in the 1980s there may have been much less of a social conscience in the design solutions!

This brings us to the Made in Brunel event.

The design projects were displayed to a very high standard  and the students were available to discuss their projects.

Additionally, the Made In Brunel team organised a number of seminars and workshops around design themed issues. The highlight of the program was a Pecha Kucha event with nine guest speakers.

Pecha Kucha which originated in Japan is a great discipline around which to design a meeting. Each speaker has 20 slides with 20 seconds of time per slide. This is enough time to give the audience brief insights but not too much background. It was a stimulating and entertaining experience.

You don’t need to be directly involved with the markets/ industry sectors of these design projects for Made In Brunel to offer value to you.

The graduates’ work is highly creative and unselfconscious and benefits from a freshness of thought and naivety – and that is not in any sense intended as derogatory. Naivety can be an asset to an innovation team – it means that designers are coming to the category without preconceptions, without baggage, that they are happen to listen to their own intuition and creativity. This can result in game- changing ideas.

For highly energised innovators and also those who are feeling a little jaded, Made In Brunel is likely to offer stimulating insights about design, products and brands, that may bring about some fresh new connections with their own markets.

Another Made In Brunel Event is planned for June 2011.