Last year, the University of Sussex was one of the first Universities to become involved in the UK founded initiative of Fixperts – a movement connecting people with something that needs fixing to people that can help create a solution. The process is filmed and the resulting short video is shared with the rest of the world on the Fixperts website, creating an ever growing database of innovative design and engineering thinking specifically aimed at helping people. The Sussex video, which was created by the team at Sussex MTL featured a group of third year Product Designers creating a quick improvement for an epi-pen auto injector and has now travelled the world with Fixperts – being both featured online and as a showcase example of great, innovative design thinking.
And last week, this global connection continued as School of Engineering and Informatics Associate Claire Potter was invited to show the University of Sussex Fixfilm and be the keynote speaker at the Universitat der Kunste, Berlin, as the Product Designers presented their own Fixperts solutions.
‘The presentations were fantastic. Each of the films were in German, but it was a real credit to each of the teams that the visual language and communication was excellent and I was fully able to understand the issues that they had decided to tackle for their Fixpartners, alongside the processes they went through and the subsequent solutions.
There was also a great range of problems addressed, from creating safety barriers for a mobile children’s library stairs, to creating a folding shopping basket and supporting tray for a wheelchair user and a device to aid the sharpening of a pencil.
After the presentations I was very honoured to give a keynote speech about the origins of Fixperts, the project that we ran ourselves with the University of Sussex and the power of these types of interventions in the wider design context. We need to be being able to speak to our clients, understand their problems and communicate our solutions – along with flexing those parts of our design brains which create beautifully elegant solutions in the first place. Trying, testing, failing, improving, retesting – all the processes within a tiny Fixperts project are applicable to any design project and I reiterated to the students how vital the skills that they have learnt are for being truly passionate designers.
If you can see the opportunity, you can start to create positive change.
And in other way, by understanding how things are constructed and hacking them for the better, when it comes to designing things from scratch you can ensure that modular, repairable, upgradable design is just designed in. We never design in isolation. We design by looking, understanding and learning from everything around us. This is what makes us better designers.
And a global movement such as Fixperts reminds us that design is not a solo activity – it is a worldwide community where surely we should all be working together – and how much better we can be when we work with others.’
Plus, this collaborative working could now continue with the faculty and designers at the Universitat der Kunste, Berlin and the BSc Product Designers at Sussex as well as new projects with Fixperts… Watch this space!
(photos courtesy of Claire Potter and the Universitat fer Kunste)