Scottish design competition partners with V&A Dundee

A DESIGN competition revealing independent living inventions of the future has secured a partnership with the Design Museum of Scotland, on its relaunch.

The Blackwood Design Awards (BDA) invite aspiring designers, engineers and inventors to submit their designs to help people with disabilities or independent living live their lives to the fullest – and this year they will be working in partnership with the V&A Dundee.

It is hoped the tie-up will launch a long-term business, as both partners say their “interests align” in this design should focus on end-user needs while supporting independent living for all.

Joanna Mawdsley, Head of Learning at V&A Dundee, will join the expert jury as the venue hosts the highly anticipated awards ceremony in January 2023.

The V&A Dundee has partnered with the Blackwood Design Awards.

Joanna said: “Competitions like the BDA encourage concepts, designs and products from a cross section of the community and emphasize 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 make an exceptional difference in meeting people’s daily support needs.”

“The world of design is changing at such a rapid 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 hobbyists can participate in the awards, which means that technologically advanced designs and simpler, but often the most successful designs are also welcome.

The awards can also be a great opportunity for design students to get their first big shot while still in college.

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 on display at the V&A Dundee and was designed for people affected by conditions that cause them to shake.

The main categories include the best collaborative project, the best new concept and the best new accessible aids, equipment or technologies.

Entrants can win a prize of £2,000 for the best collaborative project and £2,000 for the best new concept, as well as Blackwood’s endorsement for the existing product that wins the award for best new accessible aid, equipment or technology.

The announcement follows the appointment of charity expert Marie McQuade, who joined Blackwood with over 25 years of experience in the sector.

Marie hopes to attract as many registrations as possible, she said: “Some of the designs shown previously have been groundbreaking and have benefited the lives of many others, and we expect this year’s designs to are not different.

“We are delighted to have the support of V&A Dundee and look forward to working alongside them for this year’s competition – and in the future.

“This year’s awards are exceptionally special as we celebrate Blackwood’s 50th year of operation and due to the great interest anticipated we have extended the deadline for entries to 11e 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 technologically advanced designs and simpler, but often the most successful designs are also welcome.

The awards mark Blackwood’s 50th anniversary, since its founding by Dr Margaret Blackwood MBE, a respected campaigner for the rights and independence of people with disabilities.

She was deeply committed to enabling people to live independent lives and, following her work to improve their financial situation, set her sights on providing accommodation suitable for people with disabilities.

Blackwood now operates over 1,500 properties in 29 local authorities, provides care services and invests in innovation and technology to help people live their lives to the fullest.

The charity has already built two developments of affordable, accessible and connected ‘Blackwood Homes’ in Glasgow and Dundee, which use a digital ‘CleverCogs’ system to make life easier for older people and people with disabilities.

The registration deadline has been extended to Monday 13e November 2022 to allow for the expected growing interest with winners announced in January 2023.