In 2013 the Victoria and Albert Museum in London initiated a new view on collecting design. For its aptly named Rapid Response Collection curator Corinna Gardner was appointed to closely follow news developments from around the world to acquire objects that play a key role in major moments in our recent history. A knitted hat from the Russian girl band Pussy Riot, an improvised gas mask made from a 5L water bottle that was used by protesters in Istanbul and the Liberator, the worlds first working 3D printed handgun, are but a few of the items she added to the collection. According to the V&A museum “each new acquisition raises a different question about economic, political and social change, globalisation, technology and the law.”

However, most of the objects in the Rapid Response Collection are not especially designed by product designers but emerged as immediate reactions to developments in society.

This seminar will look at how product designers can become careful observers and respond more immediately to ongoing global or local developments with answers to emerging and concrete issues. Real or fake, global and local news events are starting points for relevant and personal design solutions, be it conrete or speculative. For those interested, digital manufacturing could play a big role as a tool to respond with object based solutions to these events directly.