Student Profile – Product Design, Richard Child

Functional, user-centred design can improve people’s lives. This 3D design graduate demonstrates how.

“Design is not what something looks like, design is how something works.” – Richard Child is 22 and from Barnstaple in the UK.


AVA: Where did you study and what was the name of your course?

RC: BA (Hons) 3D Design at University College Falmouth.


AVA: What would you say was the most interesting or enjoyable part of the course?

RC: The working environment, being surrounded by designers from a range of disciplines means you’re never short of inspiration.


AVA: What was your most interesting or memorable experience during your course?

RC: Our final year degree show private view, it was amazing to see a whole year’s worth of work come together for the public to enjoy.


AVA: What inspires your work?

RC: I’ve always being inspired by solving a problem, providing an individual with a product or system that will enhance their daily lives is a real drive for me. Design is not what something looks like, design is how something works.


iPhone app developed by Richard Child


Richard's energy saving app, Bloom

Richard designed this energy saving app. Bloom is an application that monitors your energy consumption, working within existing devices. Bloom is designed to empower consumers with the knowledge of which products are using the most energy within their home, then providing them with an alternative. It also calculates possible financial savings for replacing a product.


AVA: Who is the biggest influence on your work and why?

RC: Alberto Alessi, for leading Alessi to market leader of home products. Alessi are a small Italian design factory, who utilise design-driven innovation to hold this position.


AVA: Which piece out of all of your work best represents your overall collection and why?

RC: I feel that my user-centred crutch accessory shows my in-depth research that backs up my design work. This project was a real-world problem that required nothing more than a real-world solution.




Richard Child's crutch accessory being user tested

The problem Richard identified was how some crutch users struggle to carry their crutches up stairs. His solution was to lock the two crutches together, using a magnetic clip device. Pages from his portfolio demonstrate the processes he went through, from conducting research, to designing, and then testing the clip. A long term crutch user gave Richard the following feedback on the clips: “After my hip replacement surgery, I’ve always feared using my crutches on our stairs due to the pain caused. The magnetic crutch clips were easy to fit and use, as the magnets do all the work. I now feel more secure whilst on the stairs and not a prisoner in my own home!”


AVA: Have you worked with any clients on projects? If so which clients and what kind of project?

RC: Both my projects within the medical industry involved me constantly working with NHS staff, patients and manufacturers to provide innovative solutions to current problems. Working with a manufacturer enabled me to design for the manufacturing process, reducing unit prices and saving the NHS money.

I also enjoyed being part of the Cornwall Design season. There were 30 containers and each one throughout the season was given a story to design an exhibition around. Our container was the Delabole Wind Farm, and was situated in Events Square, Falmouth. The container was informative and interactive, giving the public a chance to participate and express their views on wind farms by making their own pinwheels, which were then magnetised to the container walls. Our team consisted of 8 designers, and I played a key role in all elements within the exhibition.




You can visit the Cornwall Design Season site.


AVA: What kind of materials do you use in your work and why?

RC: The use of material strongly depends on the project; I’m constantly looking for innovative materials to accompany my design work. IOM3 in London have a library of new innovative materials aimed at designers, you can look through and test each material. Conducting research first hand is more rewarding; the internet only gets you so far.


AVA: What kind of advice would you offer to someone interested in design?

RC: Pick an area of design that you love. When you love your work you’ll produce great work, and nothing can stop you.


AVA: What are you currently working on?

RC: I’m currently trying to manufacture one of my products, which is proving difficult but I’m enjoying the process and learning lots.


AVA: What are your hopes for your future career?

RC: I’m hoping to join a design team, where my work will make a difference to real-world issues. I’ve always been interested in business, and I’d love to run my own company in the future, but I’ve got lots to learn first.


AVA: If you could describe your design style in five words what would they be?

RC: User-centred, in-depth, innovative, functional and rewarding.

Visit Richard’s website to see more of his work. He also has a blog, and you can follow him on Twitter @richardjchild. Below are some more pages from his portfolio.



These images show the work Richard did on re-designing a medical knee brace. As with the crutch clip, Richard identifies the problems with the current device, reveals the design of his product, describes how this improves on the original, and shows users testing the product and giving their feedback. His design resulted in a 61% reduction in packaging, and resulted in positive feedback from users. One osteoarthritis patient and Unloader One user (pictured) commented: “The new Embrace design is simple and to the point. The neoprene pads are comfortable, breathable and grip to my skin. The brace itself is more discreet and the straps don’t pinch my leg. Finally I have a brace I can rely on.”

If you are interested in studying product design, check out the product design books available from our website.

If you are interested in the impact of design advances on helping people coping with disabilities, there is a case study in Design for Sustainable Change about Motivation, the company co-founded by industrial designer David Constantine. The company’s mantra is ‘Freedom through mobility’.

David said in 2004: ‘We have moved on from being very technically focused, to look at the whole quality of life for people with mobility disabilities. It’s about far more than just supplying a piece of equipment.’

In response to statistics that showed 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries, and the fact that few of these have access to an appropriate wheelchair, Motivation established Worldmade Wheelchair Services. This is a non-profit programme, supplying wheelchairs and mobility products across the developing world.


Pages from Design for Sustainable Change featuring a case study on the design-led mobility charity Motivation


To find out more, you can order Design for Sustainable Change from our website, or visit the Motivation site.