Designs that save the Earth

25th June 2004 at 01:00
A guitar made from yogurt pots and a lampshade constructed from photographic slides are among the quirkier entries for this year's Sustainable Design Award (SDA).

After a trial run last year, the awards for AS and A2-level Damp;T students completed its first full year with more than 500 entries from schools across England and Wales.

The competition is organised by the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) and was created to encourage design students to consider the economic, environmental, social and moral impact that designers can have.

All entrants to SDA have access to support materials on the issues surrounding sustainability and this makes the initiative popular with teachers and students says Ian Capewell, education officer with ITDG. He says: "We have acted like a client stakeholder and we have given the students feedback," he explains. "They have been delighted that they have been able to use a knowlegeable support base."

Mary Southall, Damp;T AST at Beaconsfield High School agrees. She entered one student this year but has been impressed with the awards and plans to have a greater involvement next year. "We have already thought about it for next year and we are going to enter as many of the Year 12s as possible. The support has been fantastic and the external advice has given Katie (Chapman) a completely different angle that we could not have given."

Katie Chapman, the lone student from Beaconsfield, found the email support particularly valuable. "I've always been interested in the whole environmental issue but it was quite difficult because there were limitations not only in the materials we were working with, but the processes had to be environmentally friendly. They were always sending me emails and had lots of good suggestions so it was very, very useful," she says. As well as the online materials, and advice and feedback on possible projects, study weekends at Loughborough University and the Centre for Alternative Technology have also been available to some participating students. These events have allowed students to meet design undergraduates and design and sustainability professionals.

An extra incentive for schools is that entry requires little preparation as entries are based soley on examination coursework.

There are no outright winners for the awards, and everyone who meets the judging criteria will receive a Sustainable Design Award but a selection of the most outstanding designs, including the aforementioned yoghurt pot guitar from Caistor Grammar School student Nick Taylor (above left) and the lampshade by Katie Chapman (above) will be on display at DATA's annual conference in Sheffield next Friday.

* For more details on entering your students for the 2005 Sustainable Design Award go to the website


More than 1,000 students from 500 schools entered the 2004 Audi Young Designer of the Year Awards - up 30 per cent on last year. The entries were whittled down to 700 to attend 20 regional finals which were held from April to June.

As well as presentations from experts, the candidates had the chance to meet local design professionals. The winners and highly commended students from each regional event will now go into the national final in late September in Newcastle. Top prize for the winner includes pound;10,000 towards university fees, a pound;500 bursary and paid work experience.

But before they reach the north east, the 22 finalists will enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to the Audi Design Studio in Ingolstadt in Germany.

* To find out more about the awards, go to

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