Major Success for NCAD Students in Prestigious UK Design Competition

Six Product Design students from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) have achieved major success in the prestigious RSA Student Design Awards.

The Awards – which are run annually by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) in London – provide the creative industries globally with a platform through which to spot the best emerging talent.  Previous winners include Sir Jonathan Ive, RDI, the Senior Vice-President of Design at Apple; Richard Clarke, Global Vice-President of Design at Nike; and Paul Priestman, founder of Priestmangoode, the leading global travel and transport design consultancy.

Now, six Irish students can add their names to the winners’ list, having achieved success in the 2014 Awards.  All six are studying Product Design at NCAD.  In the ‘Tomorrow’s Workplace’ category, sponsored by RBS, James Donnellan from Monkstown, Co. Dublin and Kevin Glynn from Castlebar, Co. Mayo won the overall award for ‘Best Design Project’ for ‘The Hatchery’, a methodology manifested through a work environment that gives workers a greater sense of place and autonomy.  They will receive £3,500 in prize money.

Stephen Quinn from Carpenterstown, Dublin and Pat D’Arcy from Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary were highly commended in the same category.  Their project, ‘Attend’, focuses on how to increase productivity and ideas by enhancing workers’ attention spans.

In the ‘Water, Water Everywhere’ category, NCAD students Paul Moran and Jess Lockhart won the Severn Trent Water Award for their project, ‘Water Sculptures in the Home’, a series of sculptures that work in conjunction with home water meters to let household occupants know how much water they are using in an elegant and simple way.  Paul is from Glasnevin, Dublin, and Jess is from Rathgar.  They will receive £1,000 in prize money.   

Commenting today (30.05.14), Professor Alex Milton, Head of Design at NCAD, said 2014 was the best year yet for NCAD entries in the RSA Student Design Awards.

“We are delighted that the work of six NCAD students has been recognised in the 2014 Awards,” he said.  “Success in this competition offers a real boost to the future career prospects of emerging designers, as countless industry representatives scout for new talent at the Awards each year.

“From NCAD’s perspective, it is essential that our students continue to enter – and win prizes in – awards schemes of this calibre.  The RSA Student Design Awards have an extremely rigorous judging process, rewarding not just execution but design thinking.  Shortlisted entrants participate in interviews with expert panels at the second stage of judging, and must demonstrate the processes they have developed in response to their particular category brief.  This is a hugely valuable learning experience for students, providing them with experience not only in developing a creative idea, but also in packaging and pitching it.   

“The other thing that is really attractive about this competition is the involvement of industry leaders – such as RBS, Unilever and Waitrose – as category sponsors.  Each sponsor sets the brief for students entering in their category, which gives the companies involved an opportunity to set out an existing problem they encounter and to challenge emerging designers to find a solution.  For the students who enter, they get valuable exposure to industry leaders and a chance to demonstrate just how widely and effectively creative skills can be applied in industry settings.”

Each category brief in the RSA Student Design Awards has a dedicated prize, including paid work placements and case awards to support career development.  Winning entrants also receive a year of complementary RSA Fellowship, which provides students with access to the RSA’s Catalyst Fund, Skills Bank, and crowd-funding page on Kickstarter to further develop their products.

Commenting on the 2014 winners, Sevra Davis, Manager of the RSA Student Design Awards, said: “We are very proud of the impact that the Awards have on all participants; demonstrating the value of social design to the next generation is of paramount importance to the scheme.  We received over 600 entries this year, involving thousands of students from all over the world. 

“We are always particularly pleased to get a good geographical spread amongst our entrants, and we are delighted that a number of Irish students won prizes this year.  Irish design has a strong reputation globally, and the NCAD students who were successful in this year’s Awards look set to continue this strong tradition of excellence in design.”

Further information about the RSA Student Design Awards is available at