Arts & Culture / New Inventions

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Each year the Royal College of Art hosts a graduate exhibition to showcase the next generation of artists, makers and designers. Last month we went along and were impressed by the inventiveness of the products we saw and the way sustainability has become, for many, a driving factor. Below we speak to the students behind these innovative creations…

Prati Ghosh | Innovation Design Engineering, RCA and Imperial College London

Describe your invention…

Drop by Drop is a water filtration system for the home that uses plants to filter out contaminants such as nitrates, chlorine, pesticides, heavy metals and even bacteria. Recommended plants to be used in the filteration system are herbs as they can be easily grown indoors for consumption and the air that goes out of the system is primarily oxygen which enhances the room atmosphere. The concept can be scaled up using bigger plants and trees that need more water and can be grown in contained environments.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

Wrapping my head around the huge issue of water and realizing that the problem is not localised or limited to developing nations but a worldwide issue. By 2025, London might have to start recycling grey water for drinking. My tutors here at the RCA and Imperial College London helped me believe in the design process without giving up.

What will you do next?

I want to continue working on this project. Rather than developing this into a business, the idea is to reach out to people on the internet and engage communities in taking this forward. I really hope that it becomes more than just a student project and brings about the changes that I set out to make in the beginning.

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Ryan Mario Yasin | Global Innovation Design

Describe your invention…

Petit Pli are clothes that grow with your child.

How did you come up with the idea?

I wanted to enter the world of fashion, but I wanted to use my background in aeronautical engineering to produce garments that were more sustainable. I was inspired by my niece and nephew, Ronja & Viggo, and focused on the niche user group they belong to: children, purely because they grow so fast! The concept of Petit Pli is built upon using materials resourcefully, because the garments grow up to 7 sizes, parents are buying one, not seven different garments (which all amounts to less material waste at production, labour, transportation (CO2 emissions) and waste at end of life). Children are extreme athletes, as such, our clothes are designed for continuous fit adjustment, they’re water and wind proof, and the best part is that they’re unrestrictive. The structure deforms with the movement of the child expanding and contracting in sync with their motion.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

Petit Pli is the result of a lot of experimentation with different materials and techniques. Continuing to push the concept after many failed attempts at manipulating the fabrics early on was mentally testing, you constantly question what you’re doing, and if you’re chasing the right instinct. Overcoming that technical challenge, the next stage was user testing, this ranged from posting samples for feedback, to running around London and approaching parents on the street to see what they thought – their feedback was crucial to the refined outcome I have achieved.

What will you do next?

With the invention patent pending, I hope to raise the funds to take this product, and a wider range that are still in development, to market. I’ve got a few other ideas that I’d love to explore in more depth and I aim to be a leader in the field of technical garments.

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Lina Saleh | Product Design

Describe your invention…

The Living Plates are a set of fine dining silicone plates that comes to life through responsive movements.

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How did you come up with the idea?

The current plate collection came about through a collaboration with a professional chef whose input helped extend the range of movements. The plates sink, oscillate, ripple and bounce. Made to live in the modernist world of fine dining and molecular gastronomy, they elevate the dinner into a curated experience directed by a chef.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

Mastering silicone to produce a desired outcome was a journey of experimentations. The design was based on trial and error, casting, assessing the results, noting down failures and successes –  ultimately working towards either incorporating some of the failures as features for new pieces or working them out of the existing shape.

What will you do next?

I wish to take this project further and see it live in a fine dining restaurant. I’d like to collaborate with different chefs and work on creating bespoke experience designs surrounding fine dining.

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Elena Larriba Andaluz | Innovation Design Engineering, RCA and Imperial College London

Describe your invention…
Vycle is a human-powered vertical transport system for our expanding cities. Taking inspiration from bicycles, Vycle is a system powered by continuous cyclical movement.

How did you come up with the idea?

As urban migration increases, so does our need for densely populated vertical cities. This forces us to explore new methods for vertical transportation of which there are currently two main methods: stairs and lifts. Stairs requires a lot of effort for a person to go up whereas a lift is completely powered. This carves out an area of opportunity that sits between the two. The concept of the project comes from comparing horizontal movement and vertical movement – when people move around in the city they do it through walking, biking or taking the car. If we compare these with how people move vertically, we can see that there is a correlation between people walking and taking the stairs, as well as with the car and the lift, but there is nothing like the bike in vertical transportation.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

The project requires a working prototype necessary to prove the concept. The most challenging part was building a functional system that could show a person ascending and descending through a continuous cyclical movement. A lot of iterations and engineering was necessary to make it real.

What will you do next?

Vycle is a patent pending system that allows people to cycle up in an effortless and enjoyable way. Future development will include electric assistance to meet the user comfort and find the right context for real applications. In the construction sector in particular, around ¼  of the workforce is aged over 50, so Vycle as an alternative to long ladders can offer a more sustainable and safer way to navigate through scaffoldings, cranes or transmission towers.

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3 Comments

  • Lindsey Shaw-Miller

    So great to see young artists coming up with these social innovations. I too loved the filtration system and would definitely install one of our became domestically available. I also thought Petit Pli was a great idea! It’s awful to have to discard or recycle good clothes that your child has grown out of but would love to keep wearing. It’s especially relevant for small families where handing down clothes is less likely. All of these ideas are inspiring, hopeful. Thank you!

  • Love the filtration system. A wonderful piece because of its sculptural quality, not just its practical one. I can see this in my home but guess I may need to make my own. It would be good to be able to see how Prati Ghosh takes this forward in the way he described, engaging communities and the internet. Here is hoping for success for him and ultimately for ourselves.

    A good blog, inspiring.

    Jane Hildreth (Thomas) MA RCA 1980

  • Great article, thanks for sharing their innovative concepts, really enjoyed reading what the RCA students are up to nowadays.