Notes From the Royal Society of Art’s Motivate Event at Oxford Town Hall

Despite having just handed in my final project for the second year of my foundation degree, I found myself up early on a Saturday morning and in Oxford’s historical town hall. I was not only there to represent Rycotewood college, but also to showcase the body of work that I have so far achieved as part of the THIS GIRL MAKES project.

The Royal Society of Art (RSA) was established in London during 1754, and continues to host events, such as their Motivate event, which was made possible due to some 50 fellows and special guests. Avian Evans-White and myself were two of those guests. THIS GIRL MAKES was put forward to exhibit at Motivate as part of the theme of Capable Communities, whereas Avian’s research project (read more: into lower impact and waste reduction within the furniture industry came under the umbrella of zero waste, however both projects were seeking potential mentors and investors.

The initial activity of setting up my stand was particularly therapeutic, as it gave me the opportunity to display examples of all the work that has gone into THIS GIRL MAKES to date: copies of the THIS GIRL MAKES Zine, examples of articles taken from the blog, as well as featured illustrations, deconstructed components for making a small stool, as well as a fully assembled one, a handout from the first furniture making workshop, and a design board featuring photographs and quotes from the same workshop. In this moment I was able to truly appreciate how far this project has actually come, right from the initial idea that I discussed with fellow craftswomen at London Design Fair back in September 2016.

The event had been recommended to us by Oxfordshire furniture maker, Phillip Koomen (, and our attendance had been additionally supported by Wendy Stone from the Global Academy ( This seemed very apt, as I later discovered that Wendy had herself trained as a furniture designer.

The event sought to encourage social enterprise by offering mentoring and awards, in the pursuit of innovation and disruptive change to bring about fair and wide benefits. For those who are unaware, the RSA believes that all humans have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver 21st century enlightenment. They work to bring about the conditions of this change, not just amongst their diverse fellowship, but also in institutions and communities. By sharing powerful ideas and carrying out cutting-edge research, they build networks and opportunities for people to collaborate- creating fulfilling lives and a flourishing society. They are proud to say they have been at the forefront of social change for over 260 years.

As I engaged with other exhibitors and those visiting the event, I soon learnt more about the society’s three major aims: public services and communities, creative learning and development, and economy, enterprise and manufacturing; as well as the exciting opportunity offered through their competition to win up to £3,000 in resources and cash, in order to fund a project or idea.

Along with the contacts, encouragement and enthusiasm gained from the event, I learnt an important piece of information relating to the future of THIS GIRL MAKES and our global responsibility. This being that in September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Our governments have a plan to save our planet, and particularly those people within industries and working on progressive projects share the responsibility of ensuring they stick to it. The Global Goals will only be effective, if citizens are both aware of them and passionate about achieving them. Therefore it is important to include them within the framework of existing and future projects- for more information visit:

As of yesterday, THIS GIRL MAKES will be working towards Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). Currently the direction of THIS GIRL MAKES aligns with UN global targets, such as:

By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.

By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.

By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources

By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

The event was incredibly useful in demonstrating how important it is to think of ‘the bigger picture’ when it comes to designing, making and pursuing personal projects. For more information visit: or

The THIS GIRL MAKES and Rycotewood stand at the RSA Motivate event.


One response to “Notes From the Royal Society of Art’s Motivate Event at Oxford Town Hall”

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the RSA Motivate event, and particularly pleased that you have now incorporated the SDGs into your own thinking. The UN has provided a powerful framework to help us all see where our work fits into the big picture, and how we can contribute achieving the goals by 2030.
    My own background in furniture design and RSA Oxfordshire encouraging Rycotewood students to take part in Motivate was not exactly a coincidence! The RSA was set up ‘for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’. As an RSA Fellow I try to encourage wherever I can!


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