Nick Bell has co-founded a new design practice with 3D designer Fabiane Lee-Perrella. The new practice has an educational and social purpose and is motivated by a belief that designers are in the wrong place in the cycle of project processes to be able to contribute well to sustainable and resilient outcomes. Called Early Lab, it has been created to provide a space for a bundle of ideas Nick Bell has been considering during the last academic year in his post as Chair Professor of Communication Design at University of the Arts London (UAL). He is looking for a way to provide opportunities for postgraduate and design research students to come together, from across the University from many different disciplines, to collaborate on projects of a social purpose. This work develops several steps further his issue-based projects he ran for students of Communication Art & Design at the Royal College of Art (now known as RDP, Research Design Publish) a few years ago. He wants to take a multi-disciplinary team of design students from across the six UAL colleges on a field trip. The plan is to take them somewhere in the UK where a social issue is live (he doesn't know what issue yet), a place where they can get the chance to engage directly with the people enduring that issue every day. One of the most important aspects of this work is that students will get to experience being involved in a project process much, much earlier than is usually the case for designers. He thinks that the majority of the time designers join the process far too late once all the interesting and important decisions have already been made. He thinks that supporting sustainable outcomes, so fundamentally important these days, is virtually impossible if you are stuck at the end of the process. Nick has spent the summer consulting about forty UAL academics including Deans, Programme Directors and Course Leaders over this approach.
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