Designing for communities with Central St Martins | Clear Channel
This was the final year presentation session that was held at our Clear channel London office.

Designing for communities with Central Saint Martins

Central Saint Martins (CSM) is a world-renowned arts and design college, where Clear Channel UK have joined forces with their students from the BA Product Design course. The goal, to envision the future of street furniture, outdoor advertising and positive societal projects through a collaboration with a leading creative design institution. We leveraged our extensive experience in building and maintaining public infrastructure to set briefs to challenge the status quo. This partnership proved to be a perfect fit.

As our world changes, it is our responsibility to provide street furniture that meets the needs and wants of real people but is also designed for a more inclusive and sustainable future. The projects have delivered impressive solutions and highlighted the importance of investing in public spaces and designing with communities in mind.

01  2019

Future of the high street

The first year was all about the high street, in which the students were tasked with designing street furniture that provided meaningful services for people. 

Sketch idea from a first year student, showcasing how we can use our Adshel live panels as water fountains.

The 25 students were prompted to explore the evolving landscape that influences design and investigate real-world challenges. With technology advancing at lightning speed, and the dynamic relationship between the environment, people, and their surroundings constantly shifting, the students realised that designing for communities requires rigorous thought and consideration.  

The goal was to find solutions to genuine pain points and improve pubic experience of the high street. The Clear Channel team had the tough job of judging the best designs, looking for those that were not only creative, but also viable, scalable, and affordable. Among the standout designs were those incorporating wireless charging, enhancing visibility in and around bus stops and fostering a more inclusive seating environment. 

02  2020

The retail environment

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic shift in the way consumers shop, with the growth of online and mobile shopping. Media owners like us at Clear Channel, have been helping brands evolve and reinvent how they use the retail space.    

In the second year of our partnership, the students were asked “How do you increase the attractiveness of the physical retail environment with shoppers no longer being just buyers, but looking for carefully crafted experiences?”

They were specifically challenged to consider diverse alternatives to existing approaches prioritising community, sustainability, and the shopping experience outside of the path to purchase.

The responses were varied and creative, with a focus on aesthetics, function, inclusivity, and nature to provide shoppers with a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The research conducted by the students also provided us with valuable insights into the infrastructure needed to support an evolving retail landscape and consumer behaviour.

03  2021

The skate park project

For the third year of this partnership, the students were tasked with improving the wellbeing of local Thames View residents, by redesigning an underutilised skate park to be a more inter-generational space.

A shot with the residents, council and Councillors from London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, with our product design director Neil Chapman.

The challenge was finding a sustainable and cost-effective route. Through several interactive engagement sessions with residents, CSM students were able to create concept ideas to transform the space into a more vibrant and inviting space.

We were able to evolve them into final designs for the space which included careful consideration for the floor, planters, seating, and furniture. Using reclaimed wood and planting a mix of colourful greenery, the skate park transformed into a more welcoming space. 

The revitalised skate park has received significant praise and attention from the community, which has encouraged the council to invest further in the surrounding areas. This project has had a positive effect on the residents, and has highlighted something we have always done, which was the importance of investing in the communities we are a part of.   

04  2022

Design for safer streets

This project was supported by the Design Against Crime Research Lab at Central Saint Martins and challenged students to consider how public infrastructure and street furniture could create a safer, more inclusive urban environment for women, marginalised communities, and future generations.  

Design concept from a student.

The students carried out research by talking directly to individuals, community groups and organisations to understand the issues they faced.

Some students then designed strategies to empower and educate women, minorities, and marginalised groups, including the homeless, while other students focused on designing interventions that targeted men.  

Using behavioural studies to challenge everyday sexism, sexual harassment, racism, and other cultural issues the students were able to understand what factors contribute to crime and the fear of crime. The resulting conceptions were built on a foundation of empathy, using innovative ideas, such as public seating areas with built-in security features, interactive street art installations and educational pieces that redesign the UK sex education curriculum. To find out more about this project click here

05  2023

Inclusive public spaces and street furniture

Public spaces offer vast opportunities for definition and exploration through thoughtful design. Within these spaces, inclusivity is a crucial aspect that needs to be addressed and embraced.

Design concept from student.

In the final year of this partnership the students were tasked to explore, visualise, and create prototypes of what defines “inclusivity” in the built environment.

Exploring various design elements such as street furniture, communication infrastructure, physical and digital touchpoints, and service provisions when striving for inclusivity.

The same way that sustainability is a fundamental aspect of responsible design, they were asked to look at inclusivity as paramount benchmark in creating designs that cater to the needs of the public and serve a greater good.   

Through this the students were able to come up with product and design solutions, varying from communication and community education, to mobility and safety.   

06  Influencing design

The five-year partnership with Central Saint Martins has yielded a remarkable legacy of insight, innovation, and creativity. We have eagerly embraced the invaluable insight and ideas offered through this partnership, allowing us to shape our actions accordingly.

We have drawn inspiration from these suggestions, incorporating them into various aspects of our operations, from the thoughtful design of bus stop seating arrangements to the formulation of our inclusive strategies.

Working with the best product designers in the country, this collaborative partnership has granted us a comprehensive understanding of our entire value chain. And as we move forward, we remain committed to cultivating an environment where the ideas and research conducted by CSM students will continue to inspire us.