he Liminal Collective team is deeply interested in creativity and its role in pushing the boundaries of human performance. So it was our privilege to collaborate with the Royal College of Art on their annual RCA Grand Challenge.
The RCA has been around for about 180 years and is the pre-eminent school for art and design in the world. Alumni include the likes of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Tracey Emin, and Tony and Ridley Scott. We could go on. We shall! David Adjaye, Alan Rickman, Ian Dury and Sylvia Pankhurst. Jony Ive is the head of college.
The RCA Grand Challenge is an annual affair and was supported this year by Logitech and CERN. 400 students from the RCA’s School of Design pulled together across a broad brief: to design for humans 180 years into the future.
The college’s head of textiles, Anne Toomey and head of fashion, Zowie Broach, established the brief and led the students in interdisciplinary groups to look into the future across everything from neuroscience to gastronomy. Inspiration for the students came from a series of lectures and workshops in which our Andy Walshe participated to provide his insights on the future of human performance and enhancing the human, along with Logitech’s chief designer - and RCA alumnus - Alastair Curtis.
...the power of design and creativity sees humanity overcome darker themes facing society, from climate change and overpopulation to ethics...
The real inspiration was the students themselves though. 79 groups, of which 12 went to the finals, presented extraordinary solutions to the design challenges of the future. They had been challenged, yet the true challenge was for their audience. The sheer scope, ingenuity, optimism and creativity of each group’s presentation was breathtaking.
We were introduced to visions of future society able to empathize and communicate with plants and animals, and of genetically modified mangroves supporting human life following climate change flooding. We learned of pills taken in through the belly button that can offer genetic immunity to diseases, add animal capabilities like super sight or resistance to extreme temperatures, or change body functions, all because the world of the future requires us to adapt to survive.
Of these ideas and many more, the power of design and creativity sees humanity overcome darker themes facing society, from climate change and overpopulation to ethics, often through growing proximity to nature rather than simply tech innovation.
Needless to say, we can’t wait for next year’s Grand Challenge.