Reusing rain leads to RSA Award for Christopher

Cass student Christopher Crawford-Kelly wins Royal Society for the Arts Student Design Award for innovative idea to reuse rainwater.

Date: 26 June 2013

Christopher (right) in discussion at the RSA

For young designers looking to make a name for themselves, it doesn’t get much better than winning the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) Student Design Awards.

Just ask BA Interior Design student Christopher Crawford-Kelly, who won the ‘Circular City’ category of this year’s prestigious competition.

Christopher, who studies in the Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design at London Met, beat applicants from across the world to emerge victorious in the category, which focused on improving sustainability in urban areas. His ‘Catch It, Store It, Use It’ idea - which proposed portable canopies to trap rainwater for future use - went down a storm with the judges.

“It’s an amazing accolade,” said Christopher, from Kensal Rise, North West London. “Part of my prize is a year’s Fellowship with the RSA, which has such a rich and cultured history. The opportunities and resources available from the diverse fellows associated with the RSA, and the expertise and advice they can provide, will be an amazing asset when developing ideas and concepts.”

Christopher received his award, which also included a cheque for £1,000, at a ceremony at the RSA’s central London headquarters.

“The prize ceremony was overwhelming as we were surrounded by current Fellows and so the evening was a great way of networking and sharing information,” said Christopher. “It was an amazing honour to stand there and collect the prize.”

The Cass student won the award for his design of a portable canopy that collects and filters rainwater for re-use in urban spaces. Christopher proposed the canopy could, for example, be installed at ‘Boris bike’ stands in London, where it could provide shelter from rain showers and provide drinking water for cyclists.

The innovative idea is reflective of the creativity that thrives in The Cass, and Christopher credits London Met with helping him in his success.

“I have learnt an extraordinary amount of information throughout the last three years. The great thing about the design course is that the information isn't just specific to this industry, but has relevance to all aspects of society and life in general.

“The tutors Kaye Newman and Janette Harris have been extraordinarily supportive and helpful. It is thanks to them that students’ successes are made possible through the opportunities they arrange and the support and guidance they provide along the way.”

For Janette, who is a Senior Lecturer on the BA Interior Design course, Christopher’s success in the Student Design Awards is down to him doing his homework.

“Christopher did outstanding research in preparation for this project and read broadly and widely around the subject. He spent a lot of time consulting the RIBA bookshop to find relevant information and so was able to bring together lots of ideas from different places.  

“By doing this he gained a genuine understanding of the subject – which is very complex – and was able to verbalise it clearly, which really demonstrated his knowledge. That’s what impressed the judges the most.”

Commenting on the winners of the competition, the RSA’s Co-director of Design Nat Hunter said: “We were extremely impressed by the quality of entries this year. The winning students demonstrated exceptional insight and ingenuity in their responses to the complex social challenges in the briefs.

“Many of this year’s winners have told us that entering the RSA Student Design Awards has transformed their aspirations, and they are now looking to develop a career that uses their new skills to benefit society.”

Find out more about London Met's Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design.