Co-designing a map to NetZero+

'Cultural probe' charm tool

Our expert team are working with successful jewellers Posh Totty Designs as part of a new national design research programme, The Future Observatory.

Running until May 2022, The Future Observatory programme is backed by the Design Museum, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as well as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Sustainability provides the key driving principle for the programme's foundation year, exploring how design research can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) maintain profits while also working towards Net Zero or other beneficial environmental outcomes. Working under the banner of 'Making better by design', University of Brighton design research practitioners Emma Collins (Lead Researcher) and Nick Gant (Principal Investigator) will help Posh Totty Designs deal with practical challenges around translating net zero principles into a material based business context.

Map making for NetZero+

'Cultural probe' model of premisis

Posh Totty Designs was founded by Brighton-based maker Alice River Cripps, and now has outlets in London as well as a flagship shop in the city's North Laine area. The collaboration with University of Brighton is one of 15 AHRC Design Exchange Partnerships that have been launched around the UK.

Emma Collins, Lecturer in Art and Media at the University of Brighton, is lead researcher on the project. She said: “We are using making as a way of connecting with Posh Totty. By utilising a shared design language and a bit of ‘dirty prototyping’, we are creating tangible ways to allow them to understand NetZero+, set their own goals and communicate their understanding and ambitions with their local and national communities.”

Katie Oakey, Brand Project Lead at Posh Totty Designs, said: “As a small SME, the subject of Net Zero has always felt like an insurmountable feat for us to tackle. While we have tried our best to implement more green measures throughout our business, there's always pressure we could and should be doing more to reduce our impact on our planet.

“When the opportunity to partner with sustainability academics at Brighton University arose, we jumped at the chance. While the project is only in its infancy, Nick and Emma have already opened our eyes to new and innovative ways of working. Through researching our processes, Emma has been creating visually engaging tools that will assist us in tackling the topic of Net zero, relevant to both our business at operations level, end product, and the team that create our jewellery pieces.

At the end of the project, we hope to have not only a clear sustainability manifesto, but all the tools needed to make changes to existing processes, as well as direct new ones going forward.”