RMIT design and business students have come together to launch Bright Sparks, a co-design project that aims to raise awareness and augment funding for adults with intellectual disabilities.
The students from the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) and Bachelor of Business (Entrepreneurship) degrees worked with not-for-profit organisation, Araluen, and boutique digital printing agency, Frankie and Swisse, to create textile-based products such as bags, prints and colouring-in books.
The colourful products, showcased at the Bright Sparks launch, were created to raise funds for Araluen’s Art Connects program, providing adults with intellectual disabilities further opportunities for artistic expression and independence.
Luise Adams, lecturer in the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), said the aim of the collaboration was to provide students with the opportunity to solve a business challenge for Araluen, helping them to further develop ongoing sources of income.
“The project gives students the chance to work with Araluen artists, offering them another kind of design experience to broaden their design outlook and awareness of different aspects of the arts community,” she said.
Textile design students worked one-on-one with Araluen artists to create art pieces that were worked into the textile products, and then printed and constructed with the help of Frankie and Swisse.
The branding strategy, supporting packaging and promotional materials were created by Communication Design students, while Entrepreneurship students devised a plan to advise on the best route to market.
Textile Design student Gabi Draffen enjoyed collaborating with other students as well as industry partners.
“Attending the art class at Araluen was great, and getting to know the people and organisation that would benefit from our work gave it so much more meaning,” she said.
“This project really challenged my niggling, sometimes guilty feelings about being a part of one of the most polluting and damaging industries in the world. It reminded me that creating textiles can have a positive impact and purpose, aside from being beautiful to look at.”
Emma Lynas, lecturer in the Bachelor of Arts (Textile Design), and Dr Nthati Rameste, lecturer in the Bachelor of Entrepreneurship, emphasised the major benefits of the multi-disciplinary project.
“Students benefited from this model of learning as they shared their unique skills, learnt from each other as well as from the industry partners,” Rameste said.
“They also had the opportunity to consider how their skills can be applied outside the 'usual' commercial industry model,” Lynas said.
“We would definitely be keen to work on a similar co-design project in the future.”
This project was supported by funding received from the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources’ Future Designers Program, aiming to support greater collaboration between future designers, prospective employers and Victorian educational institutions.