Design Ventura 2017

Anna Bullus, designer and founder of Gumdrop, launches the Design Museum’s brief for Design Ventura 2017. School students, aged 13 to 16, are challenged to create a well-designed product that improves everyday life, to be sold in the Design Museum shop for around £10. Design Ventura, run by the Design Museum in partnership with Deutsche Bank’s youth engagement programme, Born to Be, develops students’ design, enterprise and employability skills.

This year, the brief calls for teams of four to six students to research and consider the needs of one of three target audiences; adult design enthusiasts, young people and students, or families. Students must consider: how their product will complement others on sale in the Museum shop; sustainability; ease of manufacturing process; and budget. The winning team will see its product concept developed and sold in the shop with profits going to the school’s chosen charity. Over 47,000 students have taken the challenge over the last eight years. Schools can register to participate until 27 October 2017 at

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Anna Bullus is well placed to inspire a new generation of creatives. She graduated less than 10 years ago, having studied 3D Design at the University of Brighton where the idea for Gumdrop was born. Gumdrop was launched in 2010 with Legoland as one of the first companies to use Gumdrop bins. Organisations which use them now include BAA, Royal Mail, and Westfield Shopping Centres. Their success is proven in that they reduce gum litter by up to 46 percent in the first 12 weeks of use. Gum-tec the material Anna makes with recycled chewing gum is now being used to make other products such as dog bowls, rulers, Frisbees and sports cones. The newest product to be launched this autumn is a range of Gumboots for children.

“Design isn’t a subject to be boxed into a small part of a school day. Design lets us interrogate our world and solve problems. But, that’s not enough,” says Anna. “Researching what happened to waste chewing gum gave me the idea for Gumdrops but I have had to develop business and marketing skills too. The strength of Design Ventura is to turn blue sky thinking into a sustainable reality.”

Nicole Lovett, Deutsche Bank’s UK Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, commented, ‘Pressure mounts on creative subjects as schools are measured on a small core of subjects defined as ‘academic’. Exam results matter but Design Ventura demonstrates that character skills are critical. Creative subjects, especially when taught in parallel with enterprise, nurture self-understanding, confidence, empathy, problem-solving, and team work; all assets that contribute to an individual’s own future and community, as well as society and the economy.’

Design Ventura is a free project offering teachers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and students access to exhibitions, live workshops, online learning and resources, with support from design industry experts and volunteers from Deutsche Bank providing business and marketing advice. Students consider the whole process of design, from initial ideas to manufacturing and budgets to marketing and branding. The winners collaborate with designers and the Design Museum retail team to refine, manufacture and realise their design from idea to sale.

Ten shortlisted teams from schools across the UK will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts from design and business at the Design Museum in Kensington on 8 December. Judges have included Sebastian Conran; Naomi Cleaver, designer, writer and broadcaster; Anya Hindmarch, fashion designer; Angus Montgomery Editor, Design Week; Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh inventor and CEO, Sugru; Guy Jeremiah, Founder, Ohyo; and Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby designers and co-founders of Barber & Osgerby of Olympic torch fame; Michael Skapinker associate editor Financial Times; as well as Deutsche Bank executives.

Nine out of 10 students report that Design Ventura had a positive impact on: improving team working; understanding that mistakes and criticism can be useful; helping them think about what they can achieve through studying; understanding how they can plan to achieve what they want; and thinking about the kind of skills they want to use in their future careers. 95 percent of teachers also found that the programme gave them a better understanding of how to engage students about enterprise, how to teach it with design and the resources available to support the activity. Both teachers and students agreed that the project raised the status and profile of D&T in their school.

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