Introducing RawMinds: Creative Merchandise

12 February 2016

Welcome to the first in a series of posts about RawMinds: Creative Merchandise, our current RawMinds project for young people aged 14-19 to creatively engage with Wellcome Collection. Over the next two months, a group of selected young people from across London will be working together with professionals from the worlds of design and retail to create a small range of new products for our shop. Freelance facilitator Tiff explains.

The first session of this project started amongst the throng and excitement of a very busy Wellcome Collection on Saturday 16 January. With all the planning in place, Catherine Ayres (Youth Programmes Officer) and I welcomed 13 participants into the Studio at Wellcome Collection to introduce ourselves and set the brief for small teams to produce both a 3D and graphic product for sale in Wellcome Collection’s shop inspired by the collection itself.

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Next up, a spot of research consisting of a tour and talk of bestselling items in the shop from Marion (Wellcome Shop manager). Participants took notes in their trusty sketchbooks and asked pointed questions, including interviewing shop customers to ask about their purchases. The shop is ultimately the client and such research to determine ranges, costs and audience is beneficial for ideas to flourish and develop and also to determine the gaps and needs of the shop for these new RawMinds products.

After a break and some lunch, the group were joined by Jordan, a Visitor Experience Assistant, who gave a tour of the highlights of the incredible collection of artefacts and objects that Henry Wellcome collected, as well as the more contemporary collection of objects inspired by health and the incurably curious ethos. This included compelling stories behind shrunken heads and some very nasty-looking anti-masturbation devices, as well as the volumes of books containing the entire human genome. Participants drew out visual motifs, looking at pattern, detail, shape, line and colour in their sketchbooks and on iPads; the rich source of inspiration around them allowed their ideas to take form.

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Back in the studio, initial ideas started to take shape with some first stage sketches to tease out possible 3D ideas, as well as possible graphic ideas. The creativity was certainly flowing as was the group’s natural ability to interact and share ideas with each other. Their generosity and openness will put the whole group in good stead moving forwards.

I am looking forward to seeing the participants develop product ideas in their teams with support not only from me as an educator and person who supports designer-makers in their career, but also with support from Wyn Griffiths, senior lecturer in Product Design at Middlesex University. Wyn will provide them with a real-life prototype development day in his studio with student support. Paul Jenkins, a graphic designer, will take them on a journey to develop their graphic ideas with branding and costing considerations. Here’s to a fantastic design journey ahead and please check on for further developments in the coming weeks.

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Tiff Radmore is a freelance educator and arts professional who works as a museum educator and also finds opportunities for makers to push their practice at the Crafts Council and work in other sectors.