Jul 23. 2021

24 Hour Challenge with Cardiff School of Art & Design

Earlier this year, PDR and Cardiff School of Art & Design joined forces to host the 24 Hour Challenge, an event that gives design students the opportunity to work in teams to address a design brief in just over 24 hours.

PDR’s Role

Talking with Jarred Evans, director of PDR, he explained the challenge was initially created to help student showcase their creativity and potential innovation when given a single prompt to focus on in a tight deadline. PDR’s role was to set the challenge, support the teams throughout the 24 hours by means of advice and pizza for an energy boost, and finally judge the results to pick a winner.

The Challenge

For the first time, the challenge was held remotely, giving its own set of challenges to overcome, where in the past PDR’s designers were able to pop in and give advice to the students around a table, this year it all took place through video calls. However, this allowed students from different countries and university to participate this year, resulting in teams consisting of students from different cultures and with different perspective, a real advantage when trying to create a new product or concept.

The Brief

Over sixty students participated in this year’s challenge, from first years to master's students, from a range of design disciplines and universities from across the world, including Maynooth University in Ireland, the American University of Beirut, the University of Namibia, the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, and the Lviv National Academy of Arts in Ukraine. Once split into 10 teams, the students were given their brief, inspired by the unprecedented year we have had: what next for single use face masks’ which have saved so many lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a strong negative impact on the environment? Too often we see disposable masks littering our streets, parks and beaches, and whether it is finding a way to encourage people wearing and disposing of masks accordingly, creating a new, innovative design, or inventing policies and public health campaigns to raise awareness of the issue, a solution needs to be found. Equipped with the brief and their knowledge, the students were given 24 hours to work together before presenting their concept to the PDR judges.

The Winners

The PDR jury was impressed by each of the concepts that emerged at the end of the 24 hours. All of them reflected the complex nature of the brief, which in turn makes finding potential solutions quite complex, creating more issues that need solving before fixing the main problem. Some of them approached the issue from a service design angle, while others went down the product and service system route. The race ended up close, but the jury awarded the win to a team who took a new approach to the materials used in disposable mask designs to produce an interesting solution.

Final thoughts

Participating in this challenge pushed the students to get out of their comfort zone, working under a time pressure alongside teammates they might not have known beforehand. It is an exercise that can set them up to thrive in their future career, teaching them how to adapt and think on the spot, even if something unexpected is thrown at them.

As part of the prize for the challenge, PDR will work with the winning students to develop the idea further – stay tuned to see the result of this collaboration.

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