Introducing Selasi Setufe MBE, V&A Innovate Judge 2022 – 23 

Learning & National Programmes
September 13, 2022
© Julian George

We’re delighted to announce that Selasi Setufe MBE will be a judge for our V&A Innovate National Schools Challenge 2022 – 23.   

Selasi Setufe is an architect with an interest in exploring socially responsive approaches to design, architecture and placemaking. As a Senior Architect and Innovative Sites Manager at Be First, she champions high quality design across a variety of projects – ranging from providing design advise on large-scale masterplans, to facilitating innovative solutions on small and challenging sites.  

Selasi is co-director of Black Females in Architecture (BFA). Founded in 2018, BFA is a social enterprise and global community supporting a membership of over 400 women of Black and Black Mixed-heritage to elevate and empower each other. 

The organisation advocates for diversity, race and gender equity in the Architecture, Design and Construction industries with a vision to enable BFA members to be represented, visible, and leading the way in shaping the future of our cities. 

Selasi was awarded an MBE for her services to diversity in Architecture in The Queen’s 2022 Honours List.  

We spoke to Selasi about being on the panel and why design is important to her:

What are you most looking forward to as a V&A Innovate Judge and why? 
Engaging with young designers and the creative minds of the future. I look forward to getting an insight into the thinking behind their responses to this year’s themes, particularly in relation to their observations/experiences of what’s going on in the world.  

What do this year’s themes of Adapt, Care and Disrupt mean to you? 
The themes link into so many of the issues being confronted across the world, be it socio-economic issues, climate change, war, discrimination etc – there is increasing need to adapt, be more caring of others and our climate as well as an increased need to challenge the status quo through disruption. A level of disruption is required in order to adapt and to be more caring. 

Why is design important to you?  
I believe that good design has the ability to solve a significant proportion of the challenges we face on a daily basis and the quality of life we experience. From where we live (sleep, eat, rest) to where we work, how we travel, how we communicate, healthcare and so much more. Design is all around us and ensuring that good quality design that is capable of positively impacting peoples lives and works to minimise negative impacts on our natural environment should be accessible to everyone

What invention/innovation could you not live without  
The internet! And my phone (and electricity). 

Can you share any top tips for students taking part in V&A Innovate this year? 

  • Think outside the box 
  • Identify a need you feel strongly about/that you can relate to  
  • Sometimes simple ideas, clear ideas work best (don’t overcomplicate) 
  • Have fun 
  • Work collaboratively  
  • Test ideas  
  • Get feedback from friends and family  
  • Ask yourself if you would use your proposed innovation 
Selasi Setufe with business associate at a renovation project © Morley von Sternberg FRIBA
© Tobi Sobowale

Could your students think outside the box and share their ideas with Selasi? Register to take part on the V&A Innovate webpage and enter your students’ ideas by 13 January 2023.   

V&A Innovate is the V&A’s annual National Schools Challenge offering students in years 7, 8 and 9 the opportunity to design a solution to a real-world problem inspired by the V&A’s collections. 

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