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Discover sustainable product design with a short course

Student artwork by Lauren Burley
  • Written byCarys Thomas
  • Published date 23 June 2022
Student artwork by Lauren Burley
Student artwork by Lauren Burley

According to the Met Office, the average global temperature for 2022 is forecast to be between 0.97°C and 1.21°C above the average for the pre-industrial period (1850-1900).

To reduce the devastating effects of climate change on the planet, businesses and consumers must make more sustainable choices by considering the environmental impact of the products they produce, sell and consume.

On our Sustainable Product Design Online Short Course, students gain an insight into the opportunities for sustainability within product design, and learn how to make their own designs and business ideas more sustainable.

To find out more about the course, we caught up with former short course student, Lauren Burley. We’ll discuss what inspired her to take the course and share some examples of her unique and innovative work.

After completing this course I find myself more inspired to try and make a positive change. We make choices every day and each one of us can make a difference.

— Lauren Burley, Short Course Student

Lauren Burley is a secondary art and photography teacher based in Gloucestershire. She has a background in Fashion and knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in the arts. “Like many teenagers, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my A-Levels or what I wanted to do in the future. The only thing I did know was that I wanted to do something creative and loved the world of design,” she tells us.

Lauren is passionate about helping young people find inspiration in the art world and enjoys her work. “I became a teacher to not only inspire young individuals to learn about the arts but also to teach myself new techniques and styles. I wanted to learn about the creative world from a different perspective,” she says.

During lockdown, Lauren was keen to explore new creative avenues and discovered an interest in interior and product design. “I have become intrigued by interior and product design and have recently been offered a place at Westminster University to study an MA in Interior Architecture,” she explains.

Environmental concerns

Lauren’s environmental concerns in recent years inspired her to look into how the creative world could help to tackle climate change. According to the Arts Council (England), “artists and art organisations can shape conversations about the environment. They can challenge and be provocative, both informing and opening our minds.”

“Over the past few years, I've become increasingly interested in the environment and the effects the creative world has on the climate crisis,” says Lauren. “This is what interested me to book the UAL Sustainable Product Design Short Course.”

During the course, Lauren enjoyed working on a brief to find and redesign a mass-produced discarded product. “My department was planning on throwing out an old kettle that no longer worked so I based my project around a kettle,” she says. “We were given short tasks such as five minutes to come up with and sketch ideas to redesign our discarded products. At the end of the course, I gave my unwanted kettle a complete makeover and turned it into a colourful lamp.”

Making connections

Students on the Sustainable Product Design Online Short Course explore and review theories of sustainability in product design through a combination of tutor presentations, class discussions and practical assignments. Lauren particularly enjoyed the opportunity to make new connections and work collaboratively while on the course.

“As this was my first ever UAL online short course, I was nervous at the beginning as I was worried about my lack of product design knowledge,” she says. “However, those nerves soon passed as the first session started. Jason Allcorn was a great tutor as each session was engaging and insightful. I found myself looking forward to the sessions each Saturday afternoon. It was amazing to meet and work with people from all over the world and each one of us had a completely different background or profession which made group tasks really interesting as everyone had something different to offer.”

Thinking outside the box

During the course, students work on a number of practical assignments which gives them the opportunity to apply what they have learned. Lauren found that the weekly tasks inspired her to take on new challenges and think outside the box. “My favourite part about the course was the tasks we were given each week,” she says. “Each task was challenging and forced us to think outside the box when it came to designing with sustainability in mind.”

Lauren also found that the tutor feedback throughout the course inspired her to experiment with new ideas and approaches. “Jason (course tutor) gave me the confidence to completely let my imagination run loose which made the tasks even more enjoyable and fulfilling. Getting professional feedback each week was a highlight of the course.”

Read more about how to boost your skills with a short course in 3D and product design.

Looking ahead

Since completing the course, Lauren has been inspired to think about how we can make more sustainable choices and has enjoyed finding out more about the principles of sustainable living. “After completing this course, I find myself more inspired to try and make a positive change,” she says.

“I have purchased and read multiple books based on plant-based materials, circular economy designs and projects that are happening all over the world to help implement positive change. I've researched the world of waste and throw-away culture that many of us seem to turn a blind eye to each day. Checking the packaging of a product to ensure it's 100% safely biodegradable or recyclable and not green-washed can make a difference.”

To find out more about Lauren's work, follow her on Instagram.

Are you interested in sustainable product design?

Our range of 3D design and product design short courses are a good choice for anyone interested in making and designing objects.

Whatever your area of interest, our selection of short courses can help you develop the practical skills needed to bring your vision to life. Take a look at our upcoming short courses for more information.

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