Good Thinking

Bright ideas from the world's biggest student design show

The Global Grad Show, part of Dubai Design Week that ran from November 13 to 18, is the largest student design show in the world
The Global Grad Show, part of Dubai Design Week that ran from November 13 to 18, is the largest student design show in the world
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Global Grad Show: Headgear with responsive material that redirects impacts to better protect agains concussions. By He Chang Teo, from National University of Singapore
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Global Grad Show: Headgear with responsive material that redirects impacts to better protect agains concussions. By He Chang Teo, from National University of Singapore
Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
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Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
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Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
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Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
Global Grad Show: The B Drone is an earthquake rescue system that dispatches smaller drones from the larger mothership, which can then explore tighter spaces with their 4K cameras and infrared sensors. By Sohn Jeong Hwan, from the Samsung Art & Design Institute, Korea
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Global Grad Show: The B Drone is an earthquake rescue system that dispatches smaller drones from the larger mothership, which can then explore tighter spaces with their 4K cameras and infrared sensors. By Sohn Jeong Hwan, from the Samsung Art & Design Institute, Korea
Global Grad Show: The Life Slide is a new take on the fire engine, that adds a telescopic slide, crane and ladder to the top of the vehicle for faster evacuations. By Fan Shizhong, from Hunan University, China
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Global Grad Show: The Life Slide is a new take on the fire engine, that adds a telescopic slide, crane and ladder to the top of the vehicle for faster evacuations. By Fan Shizhong, from Hunan University, China
Global Grad Show: This 3D-printed manual centrifuge offers a cheaper way for biologists and chemists to separate liquids of different densities. By Wen Hua and Allie Miller, from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
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Global Grad Show: This 3D-printed manual centrifuge offers a cheaper way for biologists and chemists to separate liquids of different densities. By Wen Hua and Allie Miller, from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA
Global Grad Show: The Sanctum is a system for transporting donor hearts based on the process of cannulation to simulate blood flow, keeping them in a warm, functioning state outside of the body. By Joscha M. Herold, from the University of Applied Sciences, Austria
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Global Grad Show: The Sanctum is a system for transporting donor hearts based on the process of cannulation to simulate blood flow, keeping them in a warm, functioning state outside of the body. By Joscha M. Herold, from the University of Applied Sciences, Austria
Global Grad Show: Folks by Kevin Chiam of the National University of Singapore is a system of kitchen utensils for the blind that features things like retractible guards for knives and a floating teaspoon to better warn of liquid contact
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Global Grad Show: Folks by Kevin Chiam of the National University of Singapore is a system of kitchen utensils for the blind that features things like retractible guards for knives and a floating teaspoon to better warn of liquid contact
Global Grad Show: The Blacklight Mirror uses black light to highlight the extent of UV damage on the user's skin. By Sandra Pihlak from Central Saint Martins, UK
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Global Grad Show: The Blacklight Mirror uses black light to highlight the extent of UV damage on the user's skin. By Sandra Pihlak from Central Saint Martins, UK
Global Grad Show: Awair is a mechanical table for autonomous cars that shifts to indicate the intentions of the vehicle, keeping the passenger aware of upcoming movements. By Jose Gallegos Nieto and Miguel Cabral Guerra, from Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
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Global Grad Show: Awair is a mechanical table for autonomous cars that shifts to indicate the intentions of the vehicle, keeping the passenger aware of upcoming movements. By Jose Gallegos Nieto and Miguel Cabral Guerra, from Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
Global Grad Show: Saathi is a multi-purpose school bag that doubles as a reading and writing surface for students. By Shubham Sultania, from the Pearl Academy, India
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Global Grad Show: Saathi is a multi-purpose school bag that doubles as a reading and writing surface for students. By Shubham Sultania, from the Pearl Academy, India
Global Grad Show: My Tova is a school bag for kids in developing countries that also serves as a padded stool and writing board. By Nicky van den Aardweg from the Cape Penninsula of Technology, South Africa
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Global Grad Show: My Tova is a school bag for kids in developing countries that also serves as a padded stool and writing board. By Nicky van den Aardweg from the Cape Penninsula of Technology, South Africa
Global Grad Show:  Wudu Drop is a portable kit with portable water capsules for Muslims to perform wudu, a form of ritual cleansing, in public places. By Atifah Binti Mohd Yusof, from Central Saint Martins, London
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Global Grad Show:  Wudu Drop is a portable kit with portable water capsules for Muslims to perform wudu, a form of ritual cleansing, in public places. By Atifah Binti Mohd Yusof, from Central Saint Martins, London
Global Grad Show: ASA is a customizable backpack for mobile photographers. By Isabel Corcao, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil
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Global Grad Show: ASA is a customizable backpack for mobile photographers. By Isabel Corcao, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Global Grad Show: Nikola Mraovic and Luka Bogdanoic from the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, reimagine the camera
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Global Grad Show: Nikola Mraovic and Luka Bogdanoic from the University of the Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, reimagine the camera
Global Grad Show: LightTent is clever concept that stuffs a lightweight hiking tent into a walking stick. By Marisela Sanabria, National Autonomous University of Mexico
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Global Grad Show: LightTent is clever concept that stuffs a lightweight hiking tent into a walking stick. By Marisela Sanabria, National Autonomous University of Mexico
Global Grad Show: SvetTex Nest uses phototherapy to treat infant jaundice, by way of textiles that emit lights to simulate a womb-like environment
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Global Grad Show: SvetTex Nest uses phototherapy to treat infant jaundice, by way of textiles that emit lights to simulate a womb-like environment
Global Grad Show: Agbee is a farming tool that can carry crops and collect data on soil temperature, moisture, pH levels and fertilizer to predict soil fertility and harvest times. By Naoya Takei, Shotaro Fujii and Ayame Kano, from Keio University, Japan
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Global Grad Show: Agbee is a farming tool that can carry crops and collect data on soil temperature, moisture, pH levels and fertilizer to predict soil fertility and harvest times. By Naoya Takei, Shotaro Fujii and Ayame Kano, from Keio University, Japan
Global Grad Show: This portable patient chair for dental camps is designed for the 70 percent of the Indian population that live in rural areas. By Arun Shah, from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
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Global Grad Show: This portable patient chair for dental camps is designed for the 70 percent of the Indian population that live in rural areas. By Arun Shah, from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Global Grad Show: The Smile Mirror by Berk Ilhan from New York's School of Visual Arts only turns on when the user smiles, to encourage positive vibes
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Global Grad Show: The Smile Mirror by Berk Ilhan from New York's School of Visual Arts only turns on when the user smiles, to encourage positive vibes
Global Grad Show: Origami building blocks, by Jonathan Bobrow, from the MIT Media Lab
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Global Grad Show: Origami building blocks, by Jonathan Bobrow, from the MIT Media Lab
Global Grad Show:  The Reagiro wheelchair is fitted with a novel steering system that allows users to control the vehicle by shifting their torso
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Global Grad Show:  The Reagiro wheelchair is fitted with a novel steering system that allows users to control the vehicle by shifting their torso
Global Grad Show: The Sli-de-Rift by Ando Ryoichi and Isao Uebayashi from Japan's Keio University is a sports wheelchair made for drift racing
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Global Grad Show: The Sli-de-Rift by Ando Ryoichi and Isao Uebayashi from Japan's Keio University is a sports wheelchair made for drift racing
Global Grad Show: Wonder-LAND is a pop-up science book for kids that makes use of augmented reality. By Yedan Qian from Sweden's Umea Institute of Design
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Global Grad Show: Wonder-LAND is a pop-up science book for kids that makes use of augmented reality. By Yedan Qian from Sweden's Umea Institute of Design
Global Grad Show: Wonder-LAND is a pop-up science book for kids that makes use of augmented reality. By Yedan Qian from Sweden's Umea Institute of Design
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Global Grad Show: Wonder-LAND is a pop-up science book for kids that makes use of augmented reality. By Yedan Qian from Sweden's Umea Institute of Design
Global Grad Show: This concept is called the Tear Gun, which allows users to shoot their tears as an act of self-defense when they can't find the correct words. By Yi-Fei Chen, from Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands
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Global Grad Show: This concept is called the Tear Gun, which allows users to shoot their tears as an act of self-defense when they can't find the correct words. By Yi-Fei Chen, from Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Global Grad Show: This concept is called the Tear Gun, which allows users to shoot their tears as an act of self-defense when they can't find the correct words. By Yi-Fei Chen, from Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands
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Global Grad Show: This concept is called the Tear Gun, which allows users to shoot their tears as an act of self-defense when they can't find the correct words. By Yi-Fei Chen, from Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands
A stage for street performers that packs up into a single piece of luggage, on show at the Global Grad Show in Dubai
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A stage for street performers that packs up into a single piece of luggage, on show at the Global Grad Show in Dubai
Global Grad Show: The Hug Chair is designed to provide comfort for sufferers of Alzheimer's. By Napat Petcharatana from the Pratt Institute of New York
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Global Grad Show: The Hug Chair is designed to provide comfort for sufferers of Alzheimer's. By Napat Petcharatana from the Pratt Institute of New York
Global Grad Show: Cloud is speaker that acts out thunder and lightning performances, taking its cues from embedded motion sensors. Richard Clarkson, from the School of Visual Arts in the USA
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Global Grad Show: Cloud is speaker that acts out thunder and lightning performances, taking its cues from embedded motion sensors. Richard Clarkson, from the School of Visual Arts in the USA
Global Grad Show: Sixth Sense monitors levels of volatile compounds emitted through the skin and breath of the user, as a way of managing diabetes. By Hadyn Jack, Auckland University of Technology
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Global Grad Show: Sixth Sense monitors levels of volatile compounds emitted through the skin and breath of the user, as a way of managing diabetes. By Hadyn Jack, Auckland University of Technology
Global Grad Show: CARe is an autonomous vehicle concept for families that integrates a self-driving pram. By Anand Manohar Asinkar
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Global Grad Show: CARe is an autonomous vehicle concept for families that integrates a self-driving pram. By Anand Manohar Asinkar
Global Grad Show: Tracer is a robotic trash bin that shifts its location to meet the needs of busy places. By Suhyun Lee from the Samsung Art & Design Institute, Korea
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Global Grad Show: Tracer is a robotic trash bin that shifts its location to meet the needs of busy places. By Suhyun Lee from the Samsung Art & Design Institute, Korea
Global Grad Show: The Water Curtain by students from Huazhong University of Science and Technology China is a water-saving tap that uses sensors to adjust its water coverage according to the presence of objects beneath it
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Global Grad Show: The Water Curtain by students from Huazhong University of Science and Technology China is a water-saving tap that uses sensors to adjust its water coverage according to the presence of objects beneath it
Global Grad Show: Toolth is a tootbrush and floss system made from recycled plastics. By Tania MArtinez, Kalia Stieglitz and Isaac Llanas from Ibero-American University, Mexico
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Global Grad Show: Toolth is a tootbrush and floss system made from recycled plastics. By Tania MArtinez, Kalia Stieglitz and Isaac Llanas from Ibero-American University, Mexico
Global Grad Show: MOS is a system of modular furniture that can be assembled free of glues and fixings. By Isaac Francis from RMIT, Melbourne
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Global Grad Show: MOS is a system of modular furniture that can be assembled free of glues and fixings. By Isaac Francis from RMIT, Melbourne
Global Grad Show: Guma is a set of everyday objects made from discarded tires. By Jesus Alejandro Curi Chavez, CENTRO, Mexico
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Global Grad Show: Guma is a set of everyday objects made from discarded tires. By Jesus Alejandro Curi Chavez, CENTRO, Mexico
Global Grad Show: e-CAL 1020 is a plug-and play electric engine that turns any old bike into an e-bike. By students from ECAL and the University of Art and Design, Switzerland
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Global Grad Show: e-CAL 1020 is a plug-and play electric engine that turns any old bike into an e-bike. By students from ECAL and the University of Art and Design, Switzerland
Global Grad Show: Dot, by Rijas M.P from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, is a system of variable modular furniture for space-saving in urban areas
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Global Grad Show: Dot, by Rijas M.P from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, is a system of variable modular furniture for space-saving in urban areas
Global Grad Show:  The ALL PET Shoe is a football boot made from a single recyclable material. By Jules MAS, ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
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Global Grad Show:  The ALL PET Shoe is a football boot made from a single recyclable material. By Jules MAS, ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Global Grad Show: AlgiKicks are sustainable sneakers made from renewable biomaterials, mostly biopolymers derived from kelp, one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet. By Aaron Nesser from New York's Pratt Institute
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Global Grad Show: AlgiKicks are sustainable sneakers made from renewable biomaterials, mostly biopolymers derived from kelp, one of the fastest growing organisms on the planet. By Aaron Nesser from New York's Pratt Institute
Global Grad Show:  High Density is a collection of housewares made from discarded plastics. By Lauren Back from the University of Illinois at Chicago
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Global Grad Show:  High Density is a collection of housewares made from discarded plastics. By Lauren Back from the University of Illinois at Chicago
Global Grad Show: Loight is a rechargeable personal lamp for use around the home. By Zahra Ghiaci, Art University of Isfahan
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Global Grad Show: Loight is a rechargeable personal lamp for use around the home. By Zahra Ghiaci, Art University of Isfahan
Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
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Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
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Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
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Global Grad Show: Rolar is a collection of blinds that are able to capture and store solar energy. By Nathan Webb from the Royal College of Art, London
Global Grad Show: The Portable Kitchen Hood is a compact extractor fan for smaller kitchens
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Global Grad Show: The Portable Kitchen Hood is a compact extractor fan for smaller kitchens
Global Grad Show: UNU is a sustainable water purifier that relies on burning wood beneath to evaporate contaminated water, with the rising vapors then forming condensation and running into an internal container for collection. By Franco La Puente, from Pontifical Catholic University, Peru
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Global Grad Show: UNU is a sustainable water purifier that relies on burning wood beneath to evaporate contaminated water, with the rising vapors then forming condensation and running into an internal container for collection. By Franco La Puente, from Pontifical Catholic University, Peru
The Gomi dung-collection device uses a scraper and basket to collect the dung in a similar way to a dust pan and broom, making for more hygienic practice than using one's hands while preserving Indian tradition. By Anmol Gupta from the Pearl Academy in New Delhi
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The Gomi dung-collection device uses a scraper and basket to collect the dung in a similar way to a dust pan and broom, making for more hygienic practice than using one's hands while preserving Indian tradition. By Anmol Gupta from the Pearl Academy in New Delhi
The Global Grad Show, part of Dubai Design Week that ran from November 13 to 18, is the largest student design show in the world
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The Global Grad Show, part of Dubai Design Week that ran from November 13 to 18, is the largest student design show in the world

Dubai is home to lots of things that lay claim to being the world's biggest. There you'll find the world's largest mall, with the world's tallest choreographed fountain dancing outside beneath the world's tallest man-made structure, the mighty Burj Khalifa. So where else would you find the world's largest student design show?

The Global Grad Show is part of Dubai Design Week, and both are now in their third year. The exhibition showcases the brightest ideas from design and technology universities all around the world, with 200 projects made by designers hailing from 92 schools across 43 different countries.

And every one of those designers was on-hand to present their creations, making a walk through the Global Grad Show quite an inspiring experience. On show were souped-up wheelchairs built for drift-racing, shoes made from renewable biomaterials, infant beds that use phototherapy to treat jaundice, and tents that can be stuffed into trekking poles.

Global Grad Show: Agbee is a farming tool that can carry crops and collect data on soil temperature, moisture, pH levels and fertilizer to predict soil fertility and harvest times. By Naoya Takei, Shotaro Fujii and Ayame Kano, from Keio University, Japan
Global Grad Show: Agbee is a farming tool that can carry crops and collect data on soil temperature, moisture, pH levels and fertilizer to predict soil fertility and harvest times. By Naoya Takei, Shotaro Fujii and Ayame Kano, from Keio University, Japan

The Gomi dung-collection device (pictured below), made by Anmol Gupta from the Pearl Academy in New Delhi, was certainly not the most high-tech of the contraptions on show, but might just have the biggest impact. Women in India charged with collecting cow dung typically use their hands to scoop it into buckets. The Gomi uses a scraper and basket to collect the dung in a similar way to a dust pan and broom, making for a more hygienic practice while preserving an important Indian tradition.

The Gomi dung-collection device uses a scraper and basket to collect the dung in a similar way to a dust pan and broom, making for more hygienic practice than using one's hands while preserving Indian tradition. By Anmol Gupta from the Pearl Academy in New Delhi
The Gomi dung-collection device uses a scraper and basket to collect the dung in a similar way to a dust pan and broom, making for more hygienic practice than using one's hands while preserving Indian tradition. By Anmol Gupta from the Pearl Academy in New Delhi

The MIKO+ collection of jewelry designed by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, was crowned the winner by the global jury for its ability to not just look good, but deliver a form of physiotherapy to the user. Designed for heavy users of computers and sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome, the pink brass and mineral acrylic pieces are meant to replace the braces and splints typically used to treat those conditions, and are certainly are easier on the eyes.

Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome
Global Grad Show: The winning concept, by Ewa Dulcet and Martyna Świerczyńska, from the School of Form in Poland, is a set of jewelry that also delivers physiotherapy for sufferers of carpal tunnel syndrome

A manual wheelchair fitted with a novel steering system that allows users to control the vehicle by shifting their torso, designed by Reto Togni from London's Royal College of Art, received an honorable mention. And so too did a system of kitchen utensils for the blind that features retractible guards for knives and a floating teaspoon to better warn of liquid contact.

This really is just a taste of the creativity on display at the exhibition. While in Dubai, New Atlas chatted with the director and curator of the Global Grad Show, Brendan McGetrick, to learn what makes it tick. But also be sure to check out our gallery for a better look at the diversity of the event.

What makes the Global Grad Show special?

What makes it special is that there is nothing like it in terms of the diversity of schools represented, countries represented and diversity of talent. So you really get to see what the next generation of designers and innovators are doing, from a much wider range of countries than you'd typically see.

Obviously the European schools, the North American schools and Australian schools get a lot more attention than some others, so to be able to have them all here in a single space with equal treatment for everybody, and a kind of level playing field for everybody, I think is what makes it special.

Global Grad Show: Headgear with responsive material that redirects impacts to better protect agains concussions. By He Chang Teo, from National University of Singapore
Global Grad Show: Headgear with responsive material that redirects impacts to better protect agains concussions. By He Chang Teo, from National University of Singapore

What do you think it is about student design shows in general that makes them special?

I think that's actually a really important question. The most obvious thing is that the students aren't responding to commercial pressures, so that produces a kind of work that is often much more personal, much more oriented towards making a positive social or environmental impact, and I think that because of that it is really interesting, because they kind of define and identify territories that the market simply misses. In that sense, they are a really important counterbalance.

What role do you think the Global Grab Show can play in fostering a design and innovation culture in a city like Dubai?

What we're trying to do here is expand the connotation of innovation beyond pure high tech stuff. Dubai is already very gung-ho for drone taxis and hyperloops and that kind of stuff. And that's fine, that stuff is cool too, but what we're trying to really do is emphasize innovation is not technology-dependent or wealth-dependent, that it's really about the quality of the ideas, about the sort of sensitivity with which you identify the problem and then how good your solution is. I think thats really important because it's a much more inclusive definition of innovation.

Global Grad Show: The Sanctum is a system for transporting donor hearts based on the process of cannulation to simulate blood flow, keeping them in a warm, functioning state outside of the body. By Joscha M. Herold, from the University of Applied Sciences, Austria
Global Grad Show: The Sanctum is a system for transporting donor hearts based on the process of cannulation to simulate blood flow, keeping them in a warm, functioning state outside of the body. By Joscha M. Herold, from the University of Applied Sciences, Austria

The other thing I would say is valuable for Dubai is just bringing in this quantity of people from all over the world. And I think that is what is great about Dubai, is that it is kind of constantly intelligence gathering. It is constantly having people from outside Dubai come in and talk about what they do and how they do it and it's about constantly trying to learn from the rest of the world. I think that's a beautiful mentality. I think in that sense the Global Grad Show can be helpful, because it concentrates so much new thinking and new ideas in a way that you can see in a day or in an hour.

What are you looking for when selecting students and exhibitors?

Basically what I'm looking for is a new idea. The main thing is that I don't focus on the final aesthetic of it. It is not that it doesn't matter at all, but I try to make sure that if something has enough of an interesting idea in it, that if it were to come into the world it would have a positive effect. Even if this is not the definitive thing, it should make a positive effect on the world. So that's what it basically is – new thinking, innovative ideas that are trying to use design to positively affect the world, socially or environmentally. That's mostly it and then I try to make sure they have a working prototype, so it's not just pure speculation.

You are fine to say "no comment" to this one, but do you have a personal favorite?

No, I don't. It's not that I would say no comment, but it's just almost impossible. The thing I love is the breadth of it. I really love the augmented reality children's book which is quite 21st century, and I really love the shovel for scooping up cow dung, which is like medieval almost. I love the fact that they're both in the same show, I love the fact that at least according to how we define it, they're both innovation and they both, particularly the cow dung one, has the potential to make a really massive impact and make a process that is happening all the time more hygienic and efficient. And it is basically being done without the aid of technology at all.

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