An initiative developed to identify and promote design thinking; providing students with a platform to innovate, conceptualize and ultimately produce products, systems or services with real-world applications. The initiative exposes students to business practices and process whilst encouraging collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. A rigorous process of ideation and prototyping culminates in an array of products and solutions ready for the industry partner to review and further refine for possible production.
Project 81 in collaboration with Switch energy drinks and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
On April 16, 2021, Inscape became Africa’s second institution to be profiled by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) for its adoption of the Circular Economy in its formal programmes. The institution joins a list of 54 international universities exploring the impact of the circular economy through programmes and courses specialising in design and engineering.
Project 81, an Inscape initiative to identify and promote solutions designed by students in response to problems or opportunities presented by partners in industry. The project includes a four or five-day-design-marathon including guest lecturers, energy drinks, coffee, collaboration, new knowledge and exploration culminating in the presentation of solutions, products or processes. It takes time and loads of energy to transition a business from the linear economy model into a circular economy business model, for 2023’s iteration, our 1st and 2nd year undergraduates were encouraged to creatively solve this real-world challenge by generating creative circular design storyboards for briefing the graphic design and marketing teams at Switch Energy Drinks, a first time Project 81 industry partner, harnessing Circular Design strategies, principles and resources provided by the EMF.
The brief: Whereas traditional unsustainable linear economies take non-replenishable resources to make things that are used and quickly discarded as waste, circular economies focus on regenerating natural systems, reducing and eliminating waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use indefinitely. Students must harness circular design strategies to maintain and prolong product lifecycles, reuse and redistribute, refurbish for manufacturing or recycle. Students are challenged to work effectively and efficiently towards a Friday deadline, submitting pdf presentations that communicate each group’s ‘Big Idea’ towards solving the brief challenge.
This year’s programme saw 503 students supported by 70 lecturers, representing campuses in Durban, Cape Town, Midrand, Pretoria and Stellenbosch collaborate virtually in groups to solve a real-world industry-based problem. The week was further enriched by presentations featuring five local and international guest lecturers.
From the Isle of Man, Izzy Groenewegen and Hamza Egal representing the EMF facilitated an eye-opening workshop on the Circular Economy. Providing students with case studies on the capacity for circular design strategies to revolutionise businesses, products and systems across the globe, thus moving industries towards a sustainable and future-fit economy.
Michael Redforn, chief financial officer of Switch energy drinks, shared thoughtful insights and experiences of Switch as a leading South African business committed to placing a focus on sustainability and circularity. Additional presentations included those by Lodi Inga (Multimedia designer/animator and storyteller) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and from South Africa, Nigel Smith (Performance Catalyst Corporation). All groups successfully completed and presented their projects via digital subission. To checkout student presentations visit www.inscape.ac
As profiled member of the EMF, Inscape will continue to explore and support global initiatives in the circular economy. The institutions profiling also provides opportunities for international collaboration as well as life-changing student exchange opportunities and exposure with universities across the globe. The institution currently participates in student exchange programmes with the Thomas Moore University in Belgium.