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Global Grad Show 2019 Celebrates Impact on Different Scales

Educational systems across the world begin to teach and inspire students from a young age, all the way till the end of their degrees – bachelor’s, master’s, PHDs – about the importance of helping shape the world in different ways for future generations. However, we are never really fully aware of what is being done.

Every year, Dubai hosts the Global Grad Show, which is part of the Dubai Design Week. It is the biggest and most diverse gathering in the world of students and professors. Furthermore, it celebrates and highlights the achievements of numerous university graduates and professors who work to foster a more sustainable and innovative planet. This year, there were more than 1,200 applicants from more than 105 universities, out of which 150 were selected to exhibit from 12th to 16th November in Dubai Design District.

When Eleanor Watson, the curator of this year’s event, was asked how these projects were selected, she replied in a passionate tone: “With great difficulty!” followed by a slight laugh, she continues, “I was looking at whether the project showcases something innovative, but also considered if it will be possible to exhibit it well. Will people be able to understand it? I also wanted to make sure that there was good geographic diversity. The four main pillars of the exhibition program are impact, innovation, exchange, and equality”.

Eleanor Watson – Curator of Global Grad Show 2019.

The inspiration behind the five themes of this year’s show – The Human, The Home, The Community, The City, and The Planet – were inspired by Charles and Ray Eames’ short film called ‘The Powers of Ten’ that was created in 1997 for IBM to showcase the power of satellite technology and computing.

The film starts with a simple scene of a couple having a picnic on a blanket in the park, then slowly zooms out to capture the park, then the whole city, followed by the state, the entire country and ultimately planet Earth. Eleanor thinks that it is “a very neat way of showing different scales in the universe and communicates that designs also operate on different scales. There are designs just to adapt the human body, others will change the way that you live in your home, others that will affect your community, your city, and of course the planet as a whole”.

Below are a few examples based on the different themes:

1.The Human – A self-imposed virus to stem internet addictions

It is obvious that we are living in a digital age where phones have become an integral part of everyone’s daily lives. An average of 3 hours and 15 minutes per day is spent by individuals on their phones, according to research conducted by RescueTime, an app that monitors phone activity. Some of that time is spent browsing relatable funny memes, stalking different pages on Instagram, and watching cat videos – aka procrastinating. Yifei Chen (Amy), a graduate of the University of London, noticed that these habits have become a constant in people’s lives and many still continue to use their phones heavily despite knowing its potentially harmful side effects.

Through this Amy decided to create ‘Bug A Boo’ which is a self-imposed virus that appears in the forms of four different characters on-screen when an individual spends too much time on an application. These characters are “loud, colourful and deliberately vulgar to remind users of the absurdity of spending too much time online”.

Bug – a – Boo on Screen

Did you know that a daily 2 hours and 20 minutes spent on a phone translates to 35 full days a year? That is pretty insane, maybe you might consider using the app to help you spend your time more wisely!

2. The Home – Compagnons de Turbulence/Turbulence Playmat

Turbulence Playmate was designed by Fanny Pellier, a product design graduate from l’ecole Boulle and l’ENSAAMA in Paris. Pellier designed three different medical objects that can be used by children who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to help improve their concentration, communication, and control over their bodies.

Fanny Pellier – Product Design Graduate from L’ecole Boulle and l’ENSAAMA in Paris.

Pellier explained that she studied the home environment of children with ADHD by spending a few days with them and their parents. After her observations, she said that “A lot of parents don’t know what to do, or how to help their children. Doctors usually provide pills or therapy sessions to understand the children’s mental and physical mobility. But I noticed there were no home objects to help the parents after the medical sessions, so I thought, what can we do? How can we push the medical help in a home setting?”.

Soft foam slippers used by children for the interactive mat obstacles.

Pellier designed colourful mats with different patterns, paths, and obstacles made out of cushiony and hard materials, which children can interact with through fun games. Pellier suggests children can play a game by “following the blue path on the mat, as fast as possible at first, if the child has a lot of energy and then as slow as possible the next time so that it promotes concentration and control of the body”. She further emphasizes that it is also a tool for parents and children to communicate and understand the child’s emotions as it is difficult for them to verbally explain how they feel.

3. The Community – Excelscope 2.0

This machine is able to cut down the time it takes a lab technician to identify which person has malaria. With such efficiency, people do not have to wait as long to get their results and receive treatment. The project is part of the Product Design Masters at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, which was undertaken by Jan Sebastien van Ackeren, Gerianne Boer, Julieta Bolanos Arriola, Francesco de Fazio, Linde de Jonge, and Krishna Rajagopal. They are the third generation of students who were tasked to work on the embodiment of the Excelscope 2.0.

Jan Sebastien van Ackeren

Ackeren, one of the team members explains that: “When you are looking at a blood sample under a microscope, it is a very labor-intensive process because you need to hire a lab technician who spends hours looking at a single blood slide. This device is automated, so we can take pictures of 800 fields of use in roughly an hour and we run an algorithm for it which picks up the pictures where it thinks it sees malaria. This way you reduce the number of pictures a technician or a doctor needs to look at and you streamline the diagnostic process”. Through this, higher productivity and efficiency are achieved and in turn, lives can be saved at a much quicker pace.

4. The City – Audi In

Audi In

Audi has collaborated with Politecnico di Milano to give their project design master students the opportunity to work together in creating the design of a vehicle for people with limited mobility. Edoardo Capi, one of the designers explains “We want to give more freedom to people who don’t have any. We want to give them the possibility to be part of society. Our target audience are people who are mainly elderly people, like late age, people who are also not able to move around on their own, or have trouble getting to places.”. The team of four created a vehicle and a specially designed wheelchair that are electrically charged and complement one another. Individuals are able to move around in their wheelchair and easily enter and exit the vehicle with the help of its retractable platform. Edoardo says: “We wanted to provide a seamless entrance into the vehicle, where people would not be judged when getting in and out of the car. We are taking full advantage of autonomous driving because most of the people we are targeting are not able to drive either way”. The vehicle is designed to cover 80km before it needs to be recharged at an electric charging station, whereas the wheelchair is constantly charging when inside the vehicle. These rights to this project are reserved by Audi and they are still yet to decide what the next steps are.

With so many different projects and creations, the Global Grad Show was able to show its visitors how different students from around the world can positively impact our society on different levels and scales. This event celebrates what has been achieved by many talented students while inspiring future ones to follow in their footsteps.

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