V&A schools design project was ‘something cool’

A unique collaboration between Sunderland schools, National Glass Centre and a major UK museum has proved a great success.

Monday, 13th June 2022, 12:23 pm

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DesignLab Nation was a national educational scheme launched by London’s V&A the world’s leading museum of art, design and performance, in 2017.

The programme brought together secondary schools, local museums and designers, practitioners and industry to inspire the next generation of designers, makers and innovators.

It expanded to Sunderland in September 2018. The programme was designed last for three years, but was extended due to covid and ended on Wearside in May.

DesignLab Nation. From left , Kate Kennedy from V&A, Melissa Whittaker from V&A, Emily Careless, from Sandhill View Academy and artist Sue Loughlin with students from Sandhill View Academy. Picture by David Allan

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Schools involved included St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy, Castle View Enterprise Academy, Oxclose Community Academy, Sandhill View Academy and Washington Academy.

A theme was chosen for each year of the programme, and then students studied objects from V&A’s collection, and National Glass Centre’s own contemporary collection, based around the theme.

The students were then given a design challenge, with support provided by local artists. The themes provided were: skills and techniques; lighting design and re-using materials.

Rachel Groves, learning and engagement officer at National Glass Centre, said: “I’d like to thank the schools and local artists for their help with DesignLab Nation.

The V&A’s Kate Kennedy with Sandhill View Academy students at National Glass Centre. Picture by David Allan.

“We’ve had about 150 students go through the programme and teachers have talked about the differences they’ve seen in students who’ve completed the programme.

St Anthony’s teacher Jayne Conqueror said: “DesignLab Nation was a wonderful, inspiring, and engaging design programme. The pupils thoroughly enjoyed working with the artists and designers.”

Year 9 St Anthony’s pupil Olivia Skek said: “DesignLab Nation 2022 has changed and influenced my ideas on recycling and re-purposing. It has me thinking the things I throw in the bin could be made into something cool.”

Emily Careless, a teacher at Sandhill View Academy, added: “The opportunity to be involved with DesignLab Nation this year has been fantastic. Our students have benefited in many ways – from their wellbeing to their creativity.

Rachel Groves from National Glass Centre.

The students have been able to experience the plethora of history, knowledge and skills not only in their local area, but also in museums and galleries across the country.”

Artwork produced by the students is on display in the National Glass Centre until July 10.

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