A DESIGN competition uncovering independent living inventions of the future has secured a partnership with Scotland’s design museum, as it relaunches.
The Blackwood Design Awards (BDA) invites budding designers, engineers and inventors to submit their creations to help people with a disability or independent living need live life to the full – and this year will work in partnership with the V&A Dundee.
The tie-up is hoped to kick-start a long-term venture as both partners say their “interests align” in that design should focus on the needs of the end-user while supporting independent living for all.
Joanna Mawdsley, Head of Learning at V&A Dundee will join the expert panel of judges while the venue will host the highly anticipated award ceremony in January 2023.
Joanna said: “Competitions like the BDA encourage concepts, designs and products from a whole cross section of the community and emphasises that anyone can create the next life changing design.
“It’s a real privilege to work with Blackwood on this project and it’s inspiring to see designs that will help to make an exceptional difference to meeting people’s daily support needs.
“The world of design is moving at such a fast pace, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s entries have in store for us and how design can continue to play its vital role in enriching people’s lives”
Both experienced professionals and gifted amateurs can enter the awards, meaning that both technologically advanced and those simpler, yet often most successful designs, are equally welcome.
The awards can also represent a great opportunity for design students to get their first big break while still at university.
Previous winners have included an app that helps make living spaces safer for people with dementia and inventor Grant Douglas’ “spill proof” spoon – the S’up Spoon – which is exhibited at V&A Dundee and was designed for those affected by conditions which cause them to shake.
Key categories include Best Collaborative Project, Best New Concept and Best New Aids, Equipment or Accessible Technology.
Entrants can win £2,000 prize money for Best Collaborative Project and £2,000 for Best New Concept, as well as Blackwood endorsement for the existing product that wins Best New Aids, Equipment or Accessible Technology.
This announcement follows the appointment of charity expert Marie McQuade, who joined Blackwood with over 25 years’ experience in the sector.
Marie hopes to drive as many entries as possible, she said: “Some of the designs previously entered have been revolutionary and benefited the lives of many others, and we expect this year’s designs to be no different.
“We’re delighted to gain support from V&A Dundee and look forward to working alongside them for this year’s competition – and into the future.
“This year’s awards are exceptionally special as we celebrate Blackwood’s 50th year of operating and due to the anticipated high interest, we have extended the deadline for entries to 11th November 2022 so there is still time to get involved.”
Groups or individuals can apply for the awards which are open to professionals and gifted amateurs, meaning that both technologically advanced and those simpler, yet often most successful designs, are equally welcome.
The awards mark Blackwood’s 50th Anniversary, since it was founded by Dr Margaret Blackwood MBE, a respected campaigner for the rights and independence of disabled people.
She was deeply committed to people being able to live independent lives and, following her work to improve their financial situation, set her sights on providing housing that was suitably designed for disabled people.
Blackwood now operates more than 1,500 properties across 29 local authorities, provides care services and invests in innovation and technology to help people live life to the full.
The charity has already built two developments of the affordable, accessible and connected tech-smart ‘Blackwood Homes’ in Glasgow and Dundee which use a “CleverCogs” digital system to make life easier for older people and people with disabilities.
The deadline for entries has been extended to Monday 13th November 2022 to allow for the anticipated expanding interest with the winners announced in January 2023.