Design for Life partners
The Design for Life project formed part of the Government's 'Strategic Commissioning' scheme for national/regional museum education partnerships and was funded jointly by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education.
The project was led by the V&A working in collaboration with five core partner museums: Bolton Museum and Archive Service; Brighton Museum and Art Gallery; Manchester City Galleries; Museums Sheffield; and Shipley Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear. The charity Action for Children was also a partner in the project supporting the museums to work with more hard-to-reach groups.
All the core partner museums have developed project case studies and online design learning resources on their own museum sites. These reflect the rich and varied strengths of their collections, from designing silver eating implements for fast food to creating Trash fashion garments from crisp bags and video tapes.
From April 2010 to March 2011, with additional funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, ten associate partner museums undertook a shorter version of the Design for Life projects, with advisory support from one of the six core museum partners in their area. Design for Life built on the success of the V&A's Image & Identity partnership project which was funded under the same scheme in 2003-2008.
Core partner case studies
Bolton Museum & Archive Service (partner 2009-11)
Pupils from Westhoughton High School and George Tomlinson's School worked with print and textile designer Nell Smith. Inspired by objects in the Entomology, Egyptology, Social History and Aquarium collections, the pupils designed and created screen-printed T-shirts and bags.
'When I was doing the Design for Life project I went to the museum and was specifically interested in designing something related to a fish. I sketched quite a few ideas and then decided on my final piece to be a customised and funky looking fish. I used bright and bold material to suit teens and young adult's taste in clothing'
Sasha, Year 10
Action for Children Project
Young people who attend Bolton Family Intervention Project worked with jewellery designer Julia Roy-Williams. The participants worked both collaboratively and individually to make modern laser-cut perspex jewellery inspired by objects in the Egyptology collections.
'Julia really helped my turn my ideas I had in the museum into real designs…I think the finished things look really good'
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery worked with two secondary schools, Blatchington Mill and Dorothy Stringer, and the Action for Children's Vicarage Road Project, based in Eastbourne.
Year 9 and 10 students worked with fashion designers Theresa Parker and Jemma Treweek to explore the themes of 'renegade' and 'subculture' within the museum's Fashion & Style Gallery. They designed and created items of clothing inspired by the collection using sustainable materials. The project came to a grand finale with a fashion show at a professional theatre for students to showcase their work.
'The subculture that influenced my design was hippy. I liked the strong flower element and that is what I have used in my design. I have chosen to cover my dress in crisp packet flowers. I changed the skirt by gathering bits of the bottom so it stands out more'
Action for Children Project
Young mothers from the Vicarage Road Project, Action for Children, attended two intensive museum sessions with one of the designers. They designed and printed T-shirts for their children inspired by pictures and objects within the museum.
'I chose my designs from the World Art section and from a South American puppet. I chose these as I thought they would appeal to my son, particularly the gazelle head. I chose red and yellow as they are earthy and complement the design and are bright so would appeal to a child'
- Brighton Museum and Art Gallery's Design for Life project
Manchester City Galleries
Action for Children Project
Manchester City Galleries worked with four groups of young people: Parrs Wood High School, CAFRASS (Children and Families Refugee and Asylum Seekers Service), Action for Children's residential unit and Trafford Young Carers. The groups looked at lighting designs in the collections including Porca Miseria!, designed by Ingo Maurer 2004, and discussed how the designers used everyday objects to inspire imaginative and unusual lighting forms. Using recycled materials, they worked with lighting designer Daniel Davis-James to explore the design process, from setting a brief to presenting the final product.
'I wanted to use a bottle in my design because I think it is quite an unusual material... After experimenting with brown recycled paper I thought when the light bulb lit up it was very mellow and that was the way I wanted it to be - quite soft and gentle with a quirky design'
The young people at Action for Children's Foundations residential unit and Trafford Young Carers produced a palm tree floor light collaboratively for the beach-themed 'chill out room' at their centre.
'I enjoyed coming to the gallery, looking at the lights, really liked the smashed light'
'I'd like to make a lot more stuff if I get the idea right'
Fifteen students at King Ecgbert School each produced a piece of silver flatware as a sustainable alternative to disposable cutlery. Inspired by Museums Sheffield's Metalwork Collection, the Year 10 GCSE Manufacturing students worked with silversmith-designer Victoria Kershaw to develop and manufacture their designs. They worked in eco-silver (recycled silver) for improved sustainability, and their pieces were hallmarked at the Sheffield Assay Office.
'My design has a spoon, fork and a knife, which is blunt because it's for takeaway food. It is very small when closed so it's easy to carry around'
Action for Children Project
Eight young mothers from an Action for Children group each designed a bag to carry their children's belongings. Using the collections at Weston Park Museum for inspiration, the young women worked with appliqué techniques on recycled denim under the guidance of conceptual textile artist Jane Clowes.
'I got lots of ideas by looking at the bugs and things in the museum. I enjoyed it as it's made me realise that I want to go to college. I want to do interior design. I'd like to do more designing stuff, like T-shirts and everything!'
The Shipley Art Gallery; Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Students from Thomas Hepburn Community School and Heaton Manor School worked with designers Dan Civico and Carolyn Handley to design and create a collaborative light installation. Thomas Hepburn created the ceramic light coverings. Heaton Manor's brief was to design effective solutions to display these ceramic light forms. Their work was inspired by historic and contemporary lighting designs featured in the Shipley's collections.
'I designed my light based on natural forms having looked at historical and contemporary lighting design at the gallery'
Natalie, Thomas Hepburn Community School
'It [the project] has changed the way I look at design. It was great working with a designer to be creative with materials we would not usually use'
Heaton Manor students
Action For Children Project
The young people from the Action for Children groups Ear4U and St Anthonys Children's House worked with artist Tessa Holland to design and create a personalised bronze coin, inspired by the collections in the Shipley's Designs for Life gallery.
'My inspiration for this idea was carbon footprints. The human footprint in the centre is surrounded by animal footprints. The human footprint is larger because we produce the largest carbon footprint'
Bede’s World Museum
Inspired by traditional Anglo-Saxon calligraphy and marble carving, young people worked with a graffiti artist and a stone carver to design a bird bath for the museum’s Herb Garden.
Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery
Blakewater College students explored Japanese culture at Blackburn Museum as inspiration for silk screen printed T-shirt designs
Dorman Museum, Middlesbrough
Oakfields college students created an icon bridge to span the river Tees inspired by the centenary exhibition of Middlesbrough’s Transporter bridge.
Leeds City Museum
Students from Roundhay School designed their own hats inspired by materials from the museum.
Manchester Metropolitan University Museum
Lighting designs by students from Parrs Wood High School, Manchester, who worked with designer Claire Norcross and MMU Special Collections.
Museum of Domestic Architecture, Enfield
Southgate School students explored concepts of theatre design. Inspired by the ‘Japantastic’ exhibition they created their own 'fantasy Japanese garden' installation as a performance backdrop.
Orleans House Gallery, Richmond
Product designer Jethro Macey and teachers from Teddington School handle collection objects at Orleans House Gallery to use as student inspiration for new products for the museum’s shop.
Salford Museum and Art Gallery
Salford Young Carers group worked with desinger Nell Smith to make screen printed t-shirts inspired by the Pilkington's ceramic collection.
Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust
Students from Silverdale School worked on 3-D versions of designs for their own trade marks using Art CAM.
University of Oxford Museums Collections
Students from Chenderit School produced a series of textile designs using the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collections.
Design for Life was funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education from 2008-2011; and additionally by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council from 2010-11, as part of the government's Stategic Commmissioning Programme for museum and gallery education.