Poor Sam Childs. He had come all the way from Manchester to pick up one of the RSA Student Design Awards and here he was in the wrong part of London just as the presentation ceremony was due to start. The Royal Society of Arts is based in John Adam Street, just off the Strand, but I bumped into Sam in Brick Lane, E1. We were both looking for the exhibition associated with the awards; unfortunately, the prizes were being handed out at HQ.
The spacious Loading Bay Gallery at the Old Truman Brewery makes a suitable setting for innovative design, so while Sam plunged into the crowds to find a taxi, I set about finding his design among dozens of other pieces. And there it was, in the product design category, "the TV Pet".
This "feel-good product for all members of the family" stores information about the interests of television watchers, finds programmes they will enjoy and projects them on to the wall - and when someone enters the room it whistles to indicate that a plum programme has been identified. Sam, from the University of Salford, wins the pound;1,000 Norman Lucking Travel Award.
The winner of the Sony Design Award, worth pound;4,250, in this category was Ewan Dunabie's system for customising television settings, storing screen layout, text size and popular selection information. Runner-up Alastair Swanwick's useful anti-squabble system causes the screen to shut down for 60 seconds if the set is jerked suddenly.
The RSA Student Design Awards are intended to act as a bridge between education and industry. Other categories include fashion, engineering, graphics, furniture, stamps, and problem-solving briefs which show an awareness of social issues.
Gideon Tam of Kingston university won the Merchant Taylors Company Travel Award for his baby papoose integrated into a man's jacket. Paul Edwards of Ravensbourne college of design and communication has re-invented the walking shoe and won a Reebok award worth pound;5,000 for his boot with integrated "reflexology spines" that massage your foot as you walk.
One of the simplest designs is also one of the most innovative. Hugo Glover's "t-bag" has won him the top prize of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry Master's Medal as well as the Helen Hamlyn Foundation Award of pound;3,000 and a Conran amp; Partners Award of pound;500 for presentation. The "t-bag" is made from expanded polyethylene to fit a Betty Brown teapot and closes around it as the teapot is lowered into it. It helps those who have difficulty in pouring and carrying a full teapot. The exhibition can be seen on-line at www.rsa.org.uksda.
The Royal National Theatre's schools tour of As You Like It came to a triumphant conclusion at the Cotteloe in London on May 11. The audience, mainly student-age, joined in a short version of the usual school workshop, doing exercises that focused concentration to improve acting and listening. Shouting "Love is merely a madness" at full throttle can be very satisfying; internalising emotion, getting angry in stages and learning to be aware of the atmosphere generated by an audience all contribute to a better understanding of the communal experience which is theatre.
The production itself, in modern dress and cut to under two hours, was full of pace and humour and got the young audience cheering. The next LloydsTSB live! tour has yet to be announced. For information about this and other National Theatre education events, tel: 020 7452 3333. An information pack and video, Producing Shakespeare, are also available.
Sunday sees the culmination of the BBC Young Musician 2000 competition. The winners of the five sections will each perform a concerto with the BBC Philharmonic under its principal conductor, Yan Pascal Tortelier, at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Highlights of the concert will be shown on BBC2 at 5.15pm. The overall winner will receive a special trophy in another programme later that evening and go on to represent the country in the Eurovision Young Musician competition.
The festival season is already beginning. In London the National Youth Music Theatre's witty and funny production of Sondheim's Into the Woods, a melange of fairy tales with a modern twist, will be at the Peacock Theatre until Monday as part of the BOC Covent Garden Festival.
Walks, tours, opera, recitals and other events will take place at a number of venues including a 52 ft inflatable whale in the Piazza, until June 3. Tickets: 020 7413 1410. Information: www.cgf.co.uk The Hay Children's Festival of the Arts offers author events with such favourites as Kit Wright, David Almond and Shirley Hughes, poetry sessions, and workshops in everything from photography to puppetry, jewellery-making, watercolours and film-making. Bookings: 01497 820 221; website: www.hay-on-wye.co.uk.cfestival The Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, London, reaches its 100th anniversary on June 22. Its new spaces, including education facilities and glazed courtyard, will be opened on that day, providing another incentive to visit one of London's most elegant museums. There will be family activities over half-term, including storytelling about the French Revolution and an insight into the secrets of the language of the fan and how to take snuff. There is a full programme of free events for primary schools. Information: 020 7563 9500, www.wallace-collection.com Heather Neill.