Real design challenges for UAE schools in beefed-up Project Design Space competition

The first trial run of the Project Design Space competition was in Spring this year, and it went down well. At the time the organisers – the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), in partnership with Dubai Design & Fashion Council (DDFC) – said there a much-expanded version would be announced towards the end of the year. It’s here now.

Project Design Space is an after-school programme for high school students, offering the opportunity to solve real world design challenges with the aim of developing their appreciation of design both as an academic discipline and as a growing industry sector in which they might make a career. “Our goal is to nurture the next generation of designers in the UAE,” as Amina Al Rustamani, President of DIDI and Group CEO of TECOM Group, put it.

Students will receive briefs from a diverse set of partners, who effectively act as clients for the projects – Expo 2020 Dubai, adidas, IBM, Alserkal Avenue and fashion retail brand Splash. Their five design challenges range from “a car showroom of the future” and “creating an experience for multi-nationals to connect easily” to what sounds like more immediate and more specific tasks like developing an inspirational environmental campaign, smart tech clothing, and solutions to drive pedestrian traffic.

The organisers say there has been a gratifying response from more than 75 secondary schools across the UAE, of which 30 will be selected by DIDI – “schools that demonstrate the most interest and teacher/student commitment will be selected,” says the bumf, with the rider that the final mix will include “a variety of curriculum backgrounds”. The deadline for schools to apply is 26 October.

Each selected school will nominate one or two ‘teacher sponsors’ who get a workshop with specific training “teaching students how to think and work like designers” plus relevant programme materials which will subsequently be used in the after-school team sessions. DIDI says there should be at least four of these, each around two hours.

Schools will submit prototypes to DIDI by February 2018 and finalists will be invited to pitch their projects at d3 on 24 February. There will be prizes, a meet and greet with big-name designers, a behind-the-scenes tour of d3, and for the winner an opportunity to implement their concept.

Kate Acheson, Head of Arts at Dubai American Academy said the school was integrating design thinking, innovation and project based learning into its curriculum. “DIDI provides an amazing opportunity for the students to apply this knowledge and their skills into a real-world situation. Gaining experience from top companies in learning how they process design and working with peers in other schools is a one-off opportunity for many of our students. It is something that I am sure will carry them in their future university and career choices.

“It is great to see this type of exciting opportunity being offered in Dubai.” Indeed it is.

Information here.

Above: Sass Brown of DIDI talking to students about Project Design Space

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