Museums + Heritage Awards Winner – Design Ventura Learning Project

Design Ventura is a design and enterprise project run by the Design Museum and developed in partnership with Deutsche Bank. The project champions real world learning and makes use of the Design Museum as a hub for design, business, culture and learning. Design Ventura places design skills in a real world context, developing creativity, holistic thinking, team work and enterprise capabilities.

The Ventura project challenges school students aged 13-16 to answer a live brief set with a leading designer. It provides a taste of life within the design industry by asking students to work in teams to develop an idea that could feasibly be manufactured and sold in the Design Museum Shop for £10 or less. At the end of a competitive process, one winning idea is made and sold.

In 2012, the brief was set with leading fashion designer Anya Hindmarch, who is also an award winning businesswoman and a trustee of the Design Museum. Over 1,600 students from 45 London state schools participated through a programme of facilitated workshops using handling collections of design objects to inform their ideas. Business experts from Deutsche Bank and volunteers from the design community also provided practical support and advice to the teams. A further 3,916 students from 76 schools accessed the project through Virtual Ventura, an online version of the project which brings Design Ventura to classrooms across the UK and beyond. Online resources included workshop plans, films, an ‘ask the expert’ webchat, and activity sheets for students. Participating students competed within their schools and the best teams then pitched their idea to a panel of experts to win the chance of seeing their product exhibited at the Design Museum or on sale in the Design Museum Shop.

At a glittering awards event in February, we announced the competition winners for 2012-13. The Design Ventura winners were from Trinity School in Lewisham. Their product ‘Pics Pins’ is sets of badges inspired by London’s iconic architecture. Each badge displays a different segment of a building so they can be mixed up to create new, fun structures, rather like the game ‘Consequences’. The judges loved Pics Pins because of the playful nature of the product, and for its simplicity. The product will be on sale in the Design Museum from late June. Alongside Trinity, students from Brentwood School in Essex scooped the top prize for Virtual Ventura, with their design ‘Glow Gloves’. This complex and innovative product makes use of conductive thread within gloves to create a circuit which lights up LEDs to help cyclists when signaling in the dark. Judges were impressed with the use of technology in this wearable product, and by the fact that the students had thought of an innovative way to improve cyclists’ safety.

Looking back at 2012, it really was a landmark year for the Design Ventura. Record numbers of students participated from schools across the UK and groups from China and Italy were the first international schools to take part. This shows that online digital resources can be a powerful way of widening access to museums. It was the first time that an exhibition of student work was staged in the most prominent area of the museum, the Design Museum Tank which sits on the riverfront a stone’s throw from Tower Bridge. The exhibition brought status to young peoples ideas and put them back into the context of the museum. 2012-13 also saw the culmination of a three-year partnership with the Centre for Education in Industry (CEI) at the University of Warwick. Warwick has helped to evaluate the impact of Design Ventura on teachers and students, and their findings show that the project made a significant improvement on participants’ understanding of business and design.

Deutsche Bank’s new youth engagement programme Born to Be reminds us that every young person has the potential to succeed, and that opportunities like Design Ventura can help school students to develop vital skills and experiences. The partnership between Deutsche Bank and Design Museum, in its seventh year, uses each organisations’ strengths to bring the business of design to life for young people. From 2013-16 ambition for the project will grow, as will the partnership between the museum and Deutsche Bank. During this period the Design Museum will prepare to move to its new home on Kensington High Street. Opening in late 2015, the site will have three times more space in which to show a wider range of exhibitions, and engage twice as many visitors. Design Ventura will continue to support young people to utilise the museum’s networks, collections and exhibitions as resources for their creativity and educational development.