An art piece at Clerkenwell Design Week

Clerkenwell Design Week: The Higlights

Clerkenwell Design Week is the UK’s leading independent design festival. A place where professionals from all walks of the design industry can come together, network and learn about developments in design. This year, some of our team attended. The running theme amongst all topics seemed to relate back to human experience. Here are some of the highlights from discussions we attended:

Higher education is changing the workplace

During their talk, Orangebox focused on the workplace of 2030 and beyond. Their projections were based on the changing learning patterns of Gen Z students and how this will impact the workplace.

It’s called Smart Learning. Smart Learning is the creation of more ‘study on the job’ practices. As the business of Higher Education continues to shift from public to private funding, we’re seeing university-goers become more like customers than students. Just like the workplace, experience is key to attraction and retention of talent. Students no longer acquire knowledge, en masse in lecture theatres, instead course material is absorbed in personal time through interactive gaming and apps, leaving class time to be used for collaboration.

Organisations are now quickly identifying gaps in talent and introducing more ‘study on the job’ practices, for example McDonalds’ Hamburger University. This means we’re going to see more collaboration between universities and organisations – to give students the ‘customer experience’ whilst getting paid.

But what does this mean for the workplace? It means more multipurpose campuses which encourage and increase this type of collaboration. International Quarter London’s neighbour, Here East in Stratford, was used as an effective example of this. And with UCL and the London College of Fashion coming to East Bank, IQL will soon be able to form similar collaborations with nearby Universities too.

How tech can improve human experiences

This panel discussion about design technology highlighted that while digital design of tech is moving at light speed, physical design is moving at a snail’s pace.

The panel provided an example of the slowdown in physical design – the humble toilet. It hasn’t quite progressed beyond the standard format to give us the optimum experience (think small spaces and odours).

Whilst this slowdown takes place, digital tech is leading us to become globally, and perhaps one day universally, connected. People meet other likeminded people online and then interact over everyday, natural activities like eating together. This large-scale creation of connections creates more diversity and encourages us to have a more global outlook.

The final observation comes as a result of the above. As we increasingly associate ourselves as being ‘indoors’ with our machines and tech, we disassociate ourselves with nature ‘out there’. Our basic needs as natural animals must not be neglected but used alongside technology for an optimised human experience.

The Clerkenwell Design Week runs in May each year. To find out about the key topics covered this year and for updates on next year’s festival, visit their website.