Royal College of Art

Dr. Robert Phillips

A profile film for the Royal College of Art as part of their ‘Meet the RCA’ series - a video campaign exploring the backgrounds, inspirations and teaching practices of tutors working in different academic disciplines at the most influential postgraduate institution of art and design in the world.

The Brief
NextShoot was asked to produce a short profile film about Dr. Rob Phillips, Senior Tutor on the Design Products MA programme at the RCA and a commercial product designer.

The overall objective of the video was to give graduates considering an application to the Design Products MA course an insight into the practice and inspirations of a key member of its teaching staff.

The RCA Communications & Marketing team guided us with subject areas to cover with Rob, including high-profile projects he had worked on, such as My Naturewatch.

The brief was to create an informative film that emphasised Rob’s approach to tutoring, his views on open design and citizen science, and also his 20 years of commercial experience as a product designer with five international patents and more than 3 million products in retail.
Meet the RCA. Rob Philips Meet the RCA. Rob Philips
Meet the RCA. Rob Philips Meet the RCA. Rob Philips
Our Approach
We met with Rob at the RCA to go over the content of his on-camera interview and also to gather information about the sort of materials available to illustrate RCA related projects and his commercial practice also.

On our first filming day with Rob we captured a two camera interview in the metal workshop and then broll of him assembling the elements of a My Naturewatch camera. My Naturewatch is a collaboration between the Interaction Research Studio Goldsmiths and the RCA. The project encourages the creation of a simple DIY camera, and through the camera fosters people’s interest in the natural world by documenting wildlife. Rob’s involvement included the creation of workshops and exercises with cultural and wildlife organisations to find uses for the trail cameras. The Knepp Estate were one such adopter and incorporated the cameras as part of their engagement with their volunteers in the scientific monitoring of the birds on The White Stork Project. We visited Knepp to film their volunteers using the cameras to provide data on which birds are returning to the site and at what times. Of course, it doesn’t get much more filmic than a flock of white storks reflected in the smooth surface of a lake.

Besides the interview material and the broll content, we included a range of product shots related to Rob’s commercial work, and - as with other videos in the series - the RCA’s branding was included in the final edit along with a suitable music track to add the final touches to an informative, engaging and polished video.
The Results
As a former RCA student himself, Rob is clearly passionate about the role the institution can play in shaping designers who will go on to create products that build compassion, give agency to communities and focus on both user and planet orientated solutions. We feel this film successfully capture’s Rob’s heartfelt approach to his tutoring work, his accomplishments as a commercial designer of products, and the benefits he and his teaching colleagues reap from their interaction with a cohort of international students.

Visually the film delivers an engaging variety of products associated with Rob’s career - from tea-bag squeezing cups and headlamps for Bolivian miners, to mountain bike parts and the DIY My Naturewatch camera. The sequences of him constructing one such camera and the real-world example of the camera in use at the Knepp Estate add texture to the film.

Of course, the tone of a case study which you write yourself is likely to be modestly self-congratulatory. In the absence of hard stats that would prove our video’s efficacy, you’ll just have to take our word on its quality. Or better still, watch it and judge for yourself. But we do hope that this video encourages students to apply for Rob’s course. After all, the planet needs considered, sustainable design for the myriad of products we use each day, and if those products give us agency and support our communities, well that’s got to be a very good thing.

For news on the My Naturewatch project visit the RCA’s dedicated webpage.

For information on The White Stork Project, which is working to restore a free-living, breeding population of white storks in southern England by 2030, visit their website.
Meet the RCA. Rob Philips Meet the RCA. Rob Philips


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