Student takes a major design prize at RSA


Final year BA (Hons) Product and Furniture Design student Tom Howell-Jones has won an RBS sponsored Award of £2500 atthe RSA Student Design Awards. The award-winning ‘Rest?’ design is a multi-functional hard-shell rucksack and pannier back recycled from the backrest of office chairs.

Product and Furniture Design

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The RSA brief (Re-Work) asked applicants to “design and develop a vision and a business case for a new product and/or service made from disused office furniture.” It asked students to address the surplus of redundant furniture products and materials from offices around the world.

The RSA Student Design Awards have been run annually since 1924 and is the world’s longest running design competition, challenging emerging designers across the globe to tackle real-world issues facing society, the environment and business. Open to students and new graduates from all disciplines, the awards celebrate applying their design thinking and skills in new ways.

The 2017 competition comprised of 12 different briefs developed in partnership with a diverse range of industry and government sponsors, with topics including designing ways to foster inter-cultural understanding (‘Beyond Borders’), increase mental agility in older age (‘Agile Ageing’) and rethink Fast Moving Consumer Goods for a circular economy (‘Circular Futures’).

Speaking of the project, Tom said afterwards:

“The Idea was created through collecting as many office chairs as I could find. I understood that everything I designed had to fit with the majority of chairs and all the different shapes and style” Thomas added. “Whilst doing this I disassembled the chairs completely and upon removing the backrest, I realised that through tessellation a product could be formed. This was first realised by putting the backrest on a wall with the intention of create an outdoor vase. The idea then came to use that notion but for bags.”

Tom goes on to say: “The next stage for ‘Rest?’ is continuing with the development. I’m going to look into creating more products from reused materials such as inner tubes, a surprising durable material when not stretched. This will all creates the brand ‘salvage’.”

“Within this brand, all product will be designed to be as sustainable as possible and have a reuse element. My aim is to create range of products from reused material but in a way that consumers don’t realise they are using wasted material.”

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