You can see the work of our 2019/20 graduates on the GSA Showcase. Take a look - you’re bound to be impressed.

2020 was a year that we’ll be talking about for a long time, and for all the wrong reasons, but despite the challenges thrown at them, this year’s students excelled. Partly this is because Design Innovation is a programme that emphasises empathy, collaboration, and dealing with ambiguous and challenging circumstances. The work we did in the first semester and at our Winter School meant that the coronavirus was dealing with a close-knit group who refused to let lockdown squash their ambition. But mostly it’s a reflection of the people themselves - you can’t engage in human-centred design without being ‘human’ yourself.

On the programme we constantly connect what we do to the world around us, looking to the news for opportunities to innovate in meaningful ways. When the news is dominated by one thing, it’s understandable that this influences the work that students produce - but what is notable in the work you’ll see is the overwhelming compassion for others, the desire to help individuals, organisations, and society as a whole come out of this stronger, and the sheer optimism for the future.

Topics covered by students include understanding and combatting social isolation, developing local sustainability and community, the importance of play - and places to play - in inner cities, the need for serendipity in a world that is increasingly organised and controlled, the role of the local pub as a community space, and the desire for good, uninterrupted sleep (something we can all understand right now).

Projects range from the serious (several students looked at end of life care and funeral poverty) to the commercial, but with a human twist (the role that shops and other enterprises play in community spirit and identity), to the urgently-topical (the future of democracy itself).

And yet, despite the seriousness of many of the topics, and of the situation students found themselves in, what was remarkable was the good humour, the make do attitude and the friendship that clearly existed between everybody and that kept them going through challenges that would have floored most of us. Projects aside, these are the intangibles that matter the most.

Normally, we end the year with the hope (and belief) that our departing students will make us proud. This year, they have already done that. If you’re an employer looking for people with resilience, imagination, and a true innovative spirit, then look no further. And if you’re thinking of joining us to study Design Innovation in the future, I hope these students’ work will inspire you, and help you understand the sort of work we do on the programme.

There has never been a more important time to practise Design Innovation, and to hire the kind of thinkers, makers, and doers that you see here. We know we’ll be hearing a lot about them, and can’t wait to see what they do next.

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