InnovationRCA is working with the Gifu Economic and Industrial Promotion Centre (GEIPC) in Japan on a partnership programme which teams new RCA design graduates with companies in Gifu to create new products for the global market.
The GEIPC was set up by the local government in Gifu Prefecture when it recognised the need for local companies to use design to ensure competitiveness in the global market and to boost the local economy.
RCA graduates from the Design Products, Industrial Design Engineering, Textiles and Ceramics and Glass departments are invited to submit applications every other summer. Two graduate designers are selected according to their match with the participating Japanese companies.
The designers are flown to Gifu, which is situated midway between Tokyo and Kyoto, to meet their partner company and to agree a brief. After working on the designs back in their home country, the designers return to Gifu to present the final sketches and concepts – and receive a fixed fee on any product commercialised by the company.
Each project takes four months and the designers receive two return air fares to Japan, free accommodation and food expenses while in Japan, and materials expenses. Twenty five RCA graduates have been Gifu Invited Overseas Designers since the scheme began.
The next call for applications will be in May 2010.
Luis Eslava Aloy (RCA Design Products 2006) worked with Okusakagaku Co, a manufacturer of expanded polystyrene (EP) products. Luis created a simple and stylish cross-shaped clock called ‘dopo’ made from EP - Okusa's first wholly original product.
Nick Rawcliffe (RCA Industrial Design Engineering, 2000) redesigned three products for two companies, including the Rim Drive that allows you to use your bike as a trainer indoors. Nick’s modifications have made the trainer one of the best-selling products of its type worldwide.