The Design Council has today announced its first ever Future Pioneers winners – a new scheme to support emerging design talent, in partnership with the New Designers exhibition.

The show sees over 3000 of the most talented graduates from the UK’s leading universities.

We particularly loved the idea of the Augmented Quilt by Joshua Barnes from University of Brighton. As a means to combat symptoms of loneliness experienced by children staying long periods of time in hospital, the Augmented Quilt opens up an additional line of communication between the child and their loved ones. Each animal illustration on the quilt can be linked to a friend or family member, who can in turn leave digital messages for the child to read using a smart device. At the same time the tactile nature of the colourful quilt serves as a physical source of comfort, which alongside the personal messages makes the stressful experience of being in hospital more bearable. According to Barnes, he was looking to use Aurasma’s augmented reality technology in a meaningful way outside of its conventional uses in marketing and advertising situations. The separation issues experienced by children, especially those under five, while they are in hospital for long periods made a strong impact on him.

Traditionally hospitals will encourage the child to talk about their family and encourage the parents to leave objects that are familiar to the child. It was important that the blanket was ready-made so that children could instantly match loved ones up to the various illustrations that made up the quilt. For it to appeal equally to both sexes, he chose an animal theme so that it could still be treasured as a keepsake even when the child grew older. A friend of Barnes’, the illustrator Morgan Faverty, helped him design the geometric animal designs, which he then applied his appliqué technique to.

The quilt is made up of 20 5×4 squares, each with a unique animal or tree image that can easily be recognized by Aurasma. As hospitals tend to be pretty anodyne, it was important to choose bright and cheerful colours to help take the child’s mind off the surroundings. You can imagine how uplifting it would be to come across this burst of colour in a typical hospital room, not just for a sick child but for anyone having to stay in a hospital and obviously for their visitors as well.

Words by Anna Bang


anna bang, Aurasma, Joshua Barnes, Morgan Faverty, The Design Council,