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Two students recognised at awards focused on design for social impact

Two Leeds Beckett University students have been recognised at a prestigious global awards competition which has been running since 1924.

Sebi Gherghina and Simon Feather, who are students in the Leeds School of Arts at LBU, had both been shortlisted in the Branching Out category of the annual RSA Student Design Awards.

The project brief challenged students to investigate how to harness broad-leaved woodlands and their resources to increase local economic, social and environmental value.

Simon won the John Makepeace Award of £1,500 for his design called ‘Re-Foresting’ which is a systematic approach to mobilising local woodland resource.

His ambitious project proposes nine model villages set along the M62 corridor that encompass woodland growth, ecology and healthy places, whilst addressing the climate crisis and supporting the British timber industry.

Simon, who studies MArch Architecture, said:

"My project has emerged out of the climate crisis. Trees are part of this solution and in many ways.

“Decisions on the trees we plant today will ensure that timber is put to its most effective use to offset the climate crisis and sustainable lifestyles.”

Simon Feather's Re-Foresting site plan 

Sebi was awarded a commendation after designing a wooden earphones case, reminiscent of a seed pod, made from wood thinnings.

He wanted to encourage people to take a break from their electronic devices and explore nearby forests while also taking in the vibrant sounds.

Sebi, a BA Product Design student, said:

“When I was little, I would go hiking with my parents and always bring an mp3 player which would blast songs in my ears. My parents would tell me to enjoy the time with them. But why would I want to listen to the creaks in the woods or my father’s old stories?

“I was ignorant to why they would tell me to stop. Now, spending time in nature is a luxury I cannot afford more than a few times a year.”

The RSA Student Design Awards is a global curriculum and competition for emerging designers that’s been running since 1924.

Students and recent graduates are challenged to tackle pressing social, environmental and economic issues through design thinking

The Branching Out brief is one of the nine competition briefs set by the RSA in this year’s awards and is supported by Woodland Heritage.



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