The Creative Jam in Gijón, an initiative led by Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs, was a three-day intensive event that allowed participants to learn new skills, design sustainable ideas for the future and create impactful products and services.
We caught up with BA (Hons) Interior Decoration, Design & Styling Lecturer Charlotte Beevor to hear more about her time as a mentor during the Creative Jam in Spain, where she worked with a small team to motivate and inspire them to design and prototype an innovative and eco-friendly product...
Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs (AYCH) is a European project funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area programme, aiming at building a model of social innovation for young people supporting social entrepreneurship, employment and education in the creative and cultural industries. Back in April, I was lucky enough to be chosen to mentor a group of young creatives at a Creative Jam in Gijón, Spain. The aim of the event was to gather young people from all AYCH hubs around Europe and deliver workshops, set tasks and ultimately encourage them to use their design skills to think of new ways we can combat societal and environmental issues.
In good company with the AYCH Plymouth team - a group of highly skilled staff with a diverse skillset and some of our fantastic students, I embarked on the long 15-hour journey to Gijón via London and Asturias. We arrived in the seaside city of Gijón fairly late in the evening and were taken to a large get together in a beautiful Spanish restaurant with the teams from the various hubs and countries - there was a great feeling in the air that memorable connections were going to be made and the ideas were already flowing.
The following day we were up bright and early to head to the University campus for the first day of the Jam. Although I was a mentor on this trip, I floated around taking part in a few workshops and experiencing the variety that was on offer. There were technical workshops that looked at both virtual and augmented reality, eco-design workshops and sessions that looked at how to create spaces to name just a few! Having the workshops over the first couple of days got the participants in the right mindset and inspire them for the final 6-hour intense Hackathon on our final day in Gijón.
The day of the Hackathon all mentors were randomly assigned to a group. The purpose was to manage them through the ideas that had been brewing over the last couple of days in response to the workshops. Whilst the pumping, motivational music was playing in the hall that housed the Jam, all mentors huddled together regularly throughout the day for quick debriefs so they could inform each other of how the teams were getting on. Due to the fast-paced nature of the event, I was keen to get my teams ideas collated quickly into a finished idea. The reason being so that we were able to move quickly, make use of the 3D printing machine and technical assistance we had available to us for the day and create a prototype for our idea to present with - This logic worked well as at the end of the Hackathon day, we were the only team to have a 3D printed prototype for our presentation.
By the end of the day, my team had created a prototype for a travelling pod called ‘The Egg’. The idea of The Egg was to tour it around large, major cities both in the UK and abroad as part of a shock campaign to raise awareness of serious issues such as climate change. Once inside The Egg you would wear a virtual reality headset and have a realistic experience of what will happen to your city by 2045 if the earth continues to deteriorate at the same rate it is currently. For example, for our presentation, we designed a virtual reality experience showcasing the user drowning in the city of Gijón as the sea levels continue to rise and completely cover the city. The Egg could also be used as an empathetic experience for the public to experience what a normal day might be for someone with mental health issues – the list of possibilities for The Egg goes on and on.
At the end of this hectic day (to give you a visual I was running back and forth between my team and technical support like someone out of supermarket sweep!) someone from each of the twelve teams had to pitch their final idea to the panel of judges and answer questions about their team's project. I prepped our youngest team member, who was from Ireland, and she did amazingly well discussing our idea and all of its possibilities, so much so we were unanimous winners of the event and were all thrilled! The penultimate day was my favourite as it showed me how many amazing ideas can be conjured up by a group of individuals and what you can design in just a matter of hours if you put your mind to it – some of the other groups designed apps and community projects which were all great ideas.
Since Gijón, I have been become an ambassador for the AYCH and separately been asked to head a panel of Judges at an event in France for one of the AYCH hub design universities – I head over in a couple of months and can’t wait! Being part of the AYCH has been an invaluable experience. Creative, design thinking individuals are so necessary in this current climate as these are the people that are going to invent and design problem-solving solutions to some of societies huge issues. I hope to continue to be part of this amazing project and look forward to see where it goes next!
Find out more about the work and events of Atlantic Youth Creative Hubs on their website, including how to join in the next Creative Jam and how to become an AYCH Ambassador. Read MA Glass student Laura Quinn's guest blog about her time at the Creative Jam in Gijón here.