Optimism

Royal Designers Summer Session 2023, Dartington Hall, Devon
Friday 29 September - Sunday 1 October 2023

At the end of September, 12 Royal Designers, 8 wildcards and 30 early-career designers, scientists and engineers from all backgrounds convened at a three-day residential Session at Dartington Hall in Devon.

Image: Lisa Ashari

Optimism

The theme was ‘Optimism’, by which we mean optimism about the capacity of the endless inventiveness of the human spirit to bring about change for the better... These Sessions provide a catalyst for cross-inspiration, reflection and challenge as we share experience and search for confidence and insight.

Over the coming week we will share reflections and resources in the form of a ‘knowledge commons’, so that more designers can benefit from our discussion.

If you were not able to join us this year, please look out for our open call for the 2024 Session next summer.

Images: Tom Lloyd, Alexandra Ellis Jones, Nevi Balezdrova

Participants
Lisa Ashari
Engineering Design
Photo of  Lisa Ashari

Lisa is an environmentalist working on construction/development projects and is focussed on minimising harm to the local community and environment, through assessment and good design.

Nevi Balezdrova
Design Research
Photo of  Nevi Balezdrova

A Design Researcher, working towards a PhD in social design, dabbles in creative strategy and trends research; really really enjoys being moved by a powerful slam poem at a Hackney location.

Chris Bellamy
Bio Design
Photo of  Chris Bellamy

Chris is a BioDesigner from Central Saint Martins, who is currently researching ocean and intertidal eco-systems. His work is focused on nature-based solutions, following 12 years working with global brands including Land Rover and Salomon.

Wilhelmina Bunn
Ceramic
Photo of  Wilhelmina Bunn

Royal Designers Faculty Manager, design archivist and artist-ceramicist

Interior Design
Photo of  Dinah Casson

Dinah Casson set up her design practice in 1970, and her partnership with Roger Mann in 1984 – forming Casson Mann. Since 1992, Casson Mann has focused most of its work on the design of museums and exhibitions. These have ranged from the object-based British Galleries at the V&A, and the Great North Museum in Newcastle, through to the highly technological Churchill War Rooms at the Imperial War Museum. Recent projects include the Nelson Navy Nation gallery at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and Bordeaux’s wine museum, La Cité du Vin. Casson Mann’s work has won numerous awards. Dinah was Master Elect of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry from 2013-15. Since the 1970s, she has taught at design schools such as Kingston University and the Royal College of Art. 

Liang-Jung Chen
Design Research
Photo of  Liang-Jung Chen

An artist, designer and researcher with an interest in studying and reimagining everyday artefacts.

Joanna Choukeir
Design Research
Photo of  Joanna Choukeir
Portrait
© RSA

Life-centric designer, researcher and entrepreneur. Director of Design and Innovation at The RSA leading our Design for Life Mission.

Product Design
Photo of  Kim Colin

Kim Colin was born in California where she earned a BA from UCLA and a MArch from SCI-Arc. She co-founded Industrial Facility with her partner Sam Hecht in 2002, bringing her architectural perspective to the practice of industrial design. Her work reflects both a meticulous attention to detail, and a thoughtful consideration of context; creating beauty out of utility. She develops projects for international companies including Herman Miller, Emeco, Novo Nordisk and Mattiazzi, which she and Sam art-direct. Her work has received six IF Gold Awards and is in permanent design collections including MoMA, the Centre Pompidou and the Design Museum, London. Kim has taught at the AA, the Royal College of Art and ÉCAL. Writing is an important part of her practice, where she clarifies a contextual narrative beyond the physical object. Industrial Facility’s first complete monograph was published in 2019 by Phaidon Press. 

Luca Corvatta
Product
Photo of  Luca Corvatta

The work of Luca Corvatta revolves around creating simple and practical objects that are designed to solve people's problems, enhance user behaviour, with a pure and intuitive visual language. 

Malina Dabrowska
Multidiscipline Designer
Photo of  Malina Dabrowska

I am a designer and my practice focuses on creating experiences and imagining regenerative futures within the built environment.

Lauren Davies
Design Research
Photo of  Lauren Davies

After studying design at Goldsmiths University, Lauren currently works as a designer in Arup’s Global Foresight team. With a background in critical and speculative design practice, Lauren is interested in how we might collectively vision alternative futures, in the context of the current ecological and climate crises.

Henry Davison
Product
Photo of  Henry Davison

My name is Henry I and product and furniture designer from Northumberland, I have recently established a company called kylœ and am undertaking private and commercial projects with sustainable materials and techniques at the forefront. 

Michelle Dwyer
Graphics
Photo of  Michelle Dwyer
Portrait
© Theo Rhys

Designer, Letterpress Printer & Alan Kitching's Assistant.

Dan Ellis
Materials scientist
Photo of  Dan Ellis

Hi I’m Dan, I’m a speculative designer and I run a material science start up focused on decarbonisation.

Alexandra Ellis-Jones
Engineering
Photo of  Alexandra Ellis-Jones

Reliability Engineer working in pharmaceutical R&D.

Rupert Evans-Harding
Communications
Photo of  Rupert Evans-Harding

Rupert Evans-Harding is a strategy and communications consultant within the design, built environment and creative industries

Andreea Felciuc
Architectural Design
Photo of  Andreea Felciuc

I'm an architect and performance designer specializing in behavior-driven, participatory design and performing arts.

Lucia Giron
Bio Design
Photo of  Lucia Giron

Biodesigner with in an interest in merging architecture, design, and sustainable innovation to challenge ethical and environmental frameworks.

Jessica Glynn
Engineering Design
Photo of  Jessica Glynn
Portrait
© Kate Carpenter


Tom Greenhill
Engineering
Photo of  Tom Greenhill

I’m am a mechanical and electrical design engineer and chartered environmentalist and I have recently started work in a decarbonisation team for a construction firm. 

Dee Halligan
Design Research
Photo of  Dee Halligan

Irish long time Londoner concerned with widening access to ideas and practices fit for a changing world; designing not designer working between worlds to create learning and engagement activities with communities, institutions and industry. 

Bridget Harvey
Design Research
Photo of  Bridget Harvey
Portrait
© Rory Mulvey

Focussing on repair for the last 10 years, I use making to ask critical questions, generating new understanding and adding meaning, asking what we make, how we make it, and why that matters.

Marianna Janowicz
Design Research
Photo of  Marianna Janowicz
Portrait
© Anselm-Ebulue

My name is Marianna Janowicz, I am an architect, writer and educator living in London

Daniel Jiang
Design Research
Photo of  Daniel Jiang

A technologist generalist, with an interest in how to make cool sh*t and how we can use design to create magical experiences for humans.

Immy Kaur
Social design
Gerick King
Graphics
Photo of  Gerick King

My name is Gerick King, I am a London-based multidisciplinary designer from the Philippines with a background in graphic design, who works in object design and material research with a focus on domestic landscapes and future ecologies. 

Ceramics + Glass
Photo of  Robin Levien

Robin Levien is a designer specialising in products for the home. He studied Ceramics at the Central School of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art, graduating with a master’s degree in 1976, before joining the design partnership Queensberry Hunt. He later became a senior partner in what became Queensberry Hunt Levien. In 1999 he set up his current practice Studio Levien with his partner Patricia Stainton. His Trend porcelain tableware for Rosenthal Thomas has been a top seller for nearly forty years. Robin has worked closely with Ideal Standard since the early 1980’s. One in seven homes in the UK now has one of his designs in the bathroom. Robin was made a Royal Designer for Industry in 1995 and served as Master of the Faculty between 2009 and 2011. Functional, Affordable and Beautiful are Robin’s guiding principles. He is a perfectionist trying to master the art of imperfection.

Product Design
Photo of  Tom Lloyd

Tom Lloyd is an industrial designer and founding partner (with Luke Pearson RDI) of the London design studio Pearson Lloyd. Through design, Pearson Lloyd transform the way in which people use and experience public spaces and services, and delivers products that are relevant, efficient and beautiful. The studio offers design services and strategic thinking in environments that have demanding spatial, ergonomic and social needs, such as transport, workplace, healthcare and cities. Working with a range of international clients, Pearson Lloyd prides itself on developing long-term relationships with clients including consumer brands, manufacturers and the public sector. Key clients include Lufthansa, The City of Bath, InterContinental Hotels, The Department of Health, Bene, TAKT and Joseph Joseph. Tom trained in Furniture Design at Trent Polytechnic, (BA Hons 1991, 1stClass) before completing a master’s degree MA (RCA Distinction) in Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art in 1993. In 1993 he joined Pentagram in London working with Daniel Weil, before founding Pearson Lloyd with Luke in 1997. Tom was awarded the distinction of Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts in 2008.

Huren Marsh
Product
Photo of  Huren Marsh

Engineer to furniture and product designer followed by spells as interior architect and university lecturer but now mainly a teller of tales. 

Andu Masebo
Product
Photo of  Andu Masebo
Portrait
© Ollie-Adegboye

Andu Masebo is a product designer from London with a background in carpentry, metalwork and ceramics. His experience rooted in the practicalities of making things has informed a practice engaged with the way objects come to be, the conditions under which things are produced and the wider systems that dictate their context beyond their production.

Helen McGarry
Structural Engineering Design
Photo of  Helen McGarry
Portrait
© Andrew Mason

I am a chartered structural engineer with ten years of experience designing buildings; I am interested in art, film, architecture and how we affect and are affected by environments and situations within such contexts.

Emma Mckeever
Design Research
Photo of  Emma Mckeever

Emma Mckeever is a citizen mycologist and PhD Researcher at Queen's University Belfast, exploring the implementation of decolonial methodologies within third level education. 

Mark Miodownick
Materials scientist
Photo of  Mark Miodownick
Portrait
© Credit Ruby Wright

Materials scientist & engineer; enthusiast; author & occasional tv/radio presenter

Samuel Miselbach
Engineering
Photo of  Samuel Miselbach

Hello, I am Sam, an environmental designer in the building industry at Atelier Ten – excited to ‘embrace optimism’ in a collaborative way as we look for solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

Sabina Otelea
Critical Design
Photo of  Sabina Otelea
Portrait
© Goncalo Lopes

Sabina Oțelea (they/she) is a Conceptual Designer and Visual Communicator, with a transdisciplinary design process activated through experimentation and exploration. With a deep fascination for collective embodied experiences, their work focuses on designing pieces and spaces that engage their audience further by attempting to find meaning in the inconspicuous.

Maria Paola Espa
Engineering Design
Photo of  Maria Paola Espa

I am a Civil and Environmental Engineer passionate about my job within the Water Industry, with the greatest ambition of making a positive impact with my work.

Engineering Design
Photo of  Charlie Paton

Charlie Paton is a product developer, maker, designer and forester. His early success was the invention and development of motorised lighting for theatre, TV and concerts. For the past twenty years, he has been developing his Seawater Greenhouse concept, designed to produce food and water on barren land, in hot and arid coastal regions. It harnesses sunlight and seawater in a unique and inspired way, to create a virtuous cycle that produces fresh food and fresh water, in locations where shortages of both are a significant problem. Charlie has designed and built projects in five locations around the world; simple and elegant it is potentially life-changing for huge numbers of people living in deprived coastal regions. The design has received many awards; most recently the national winner of the 2018 Shell Springboard Award for low-carbon design.

Product Design
Photo of  Luke Pearson

Luke Pearson is an industrial designer and founding partner (with Tom Lloyd RDI) of the London design studio Pearson Lloyd. Through design, Pearson Lloyd transform the way in which people use and experience public spaces and services, and delivers products that are relevant, efficient and beautiful. The studio offers design services and strategic thinking in environments that have demanding spatial, ergonomic and social needs, such as transport, workplace, healthcare and cities. Working with a range of international clients, Pearson Lloyd prides itself on developing long-term relationships with clients including consumer brands, manufacturers and the public sector. Key clients include Lufthansa, The City of Bath, InterContinental Hotels, The Department of Health, Bene, TAKT and Joseph Joseph. Luke trained in Industrial Design at Central St Martins, (BA Hons 1991) before completing a Master’s Degree MA (RCA) in Furniture Design at the Royal College of Art in 1993. He worked with Ross Lovegrove in London before joining Tom to found Pearson Lloyd in 1997. Luke was awarded the distinction of Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts in 2008. 

Vincenzo Reale
Engineering Design
Photo of  Vincenzo Reale

Architect, structural engineer, and designer, I am passionately drawn to the intersection of art, design and engineering, and dedicating over a decade of professional experience to create and support innovative work across the world

Bronwen Rees
Product
Photo of  Bronwen Rees

Bronwen is a designer/maker with a background in product and furniture. She currently works at the Design Council as a Programme Coordinator, supporting the delivery of multiple environmentally-orientated design projects, and advocating for design as a creative problem-solving tool.

Oliver Sarginson
Film
Photo of  Oliver Sarginson

Hey I'm Olly and I'm studying film at Falmouth University, I enjoy creating commercials, music video, films and documentaries but also pulling together creative projects over lots of different visual mediums.

Osnat Schmool
Theatre
Photo of  Osnat Schmool
Portrait
© Gregory-Massat, courtesy of Cadence

Osnat Schmool is a composer/lyricist, choral conductor, performer and co-founder of Filament Theatre - her recent projects include: The Crucible (West End), Macbeth (Globe) and Earth Makes No Sound for Planet Summer (Southbank centre)

Jasper Stevens
Design Research
Photo of  Jasper Stevens

Jasper is a designer, researcher, and prototyper making systems, interfaces, and interactions for emerging technologies. 

Josie Warden
Systems design
Photo of  Josie Warden
Portrait
© Piranha Photography

Hello, I'm a textile-turned-systems designer excited about exploring living systems through design.

Daniel Weil
Multidiscipline Designer
Photo of  Daniel Weil

I am a multidiscipline designer and consultant.

I was born in Argentina where I qualified as an Architect, in 1981 I got my MA in Industrial design at the RCA.

From 1983 to 1986 I was co-unit master of Diploma unit 10 at the Architectural Association

In 1991I was appointed professor of Industrial design,Design management and Vehicle design at the RCA were I am Senior Fellow since 2002.

In 1992 I joined Pentagram as a partner until my resignation in 2020. 

Structural Engineering Design
Photo of  Chris Wise

Chris Wise graduated from the University of Southampton with a degree in Civil engineering. He co-founded Expedition in 1999. Working with many of the world’s leading architects including Rogers, Foster, Hopkins and Renzo Piano, Chris has led the engineering of projects including the 2012 Olympic Velodrome; the American Air Museum, Duxford; London Millennium Bridge; and Channel 4 HQ. Chris was Design Professor at Imperial College, London, where he co-founded the Constructionarium, later at Yale, and since September 2012, at UCL, London. From 2007-09 Chris was Master Elect of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA. In October 2012 he was awarded an unprecedented double, winning Gold Medals for his outstanding contribution to the engineering profession from both the IStructE and the ICE. 

James Wright
Product
Photo of  James Wright

I’m a designer dedicated to creating impact led new products, technologies & experiences in collaboration with climate tech start-ups.

Anne Zhou
Exhibitions + Interiors
Photo of  Anne Zhou

I am a spatial designer and curator based in London. 

Images: Jasper Stevens, Lisa Ashari

Reflections from Summer Session 2023


‘A privilege to have the opportunity to engage with and listen to such a diverse group of creative, concerned and sincere people.’

‘The retreat creates interactions that trigger you to think, explore, discuss outside your comfort zone, dip into sources of data that you'd forgotten or that were hidden.’

‘I think the ripples of the weekend will recur in many of us for a long time coming.’

‘We stepped into the unfamiliar, debated, dissented, hummed together, revealed and confronted each other in conversation. Creativity thrives in the unexpected, and this will remain a resourceful and cherished experience.’

Royal Designers Summer Session 2023
Video by Oliver Sarginson


Supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851