Product Design student wins international award for sustainable toy design

A De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) design student has been awarded a £2,000 prize after winning an RSA Student Design Award.

The prestigious annual competition is organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) and is open to emerging designers from colleges and universities around the world.

Elly Skelton

Third-year Product Design student Elly Skelton impressed the judges with her ‘1 Toy for Life’ design in response to the ‘Fair Play’ brief, which encouraged students to design or re-design a consumer toy and its packaging to eliminate waste, using circular design principles.

21-year-old Elly, from Milton Keynes, designed a durable scooter that can be adapted as the user grows so that it can last for an entire childhood.

After presenting it to a panel of eight industry experts, Elly was named as one of three winners in her category.

“It’s amazing to have won the award,” she said. “It’s such an honour to be nominated and it was a great experience to go down to London to the RSA headquarters and present my design.”

1 Toy For Life

The plastic-free design is suitable for children from the age of two all the way to age 12 and is made from aluminium, which perfectly fitted the brief to make a product suitable for the circular economy.

Elly explained: “I started looking into materials I could use for the circular economy and I thought of aluminium because it is so recyclable. 75% of aluminium ever created is still in use today, which is amazing.

“For both of my projects this year I have wanted to move away from plastics. My other major project is about eradicating plastic bags and hangers from retail stores. It all feeds into the anti-plastics sentiment.

“It is only going to get more important to create sustainable products and it’s good to be thinking about designs that don’t use plastics.”

Having chosen to make a toy ‘because it is the most fun’, Elly was inspired to create a scooter by her childhood memories of playing on scooters with her brother.

She said: “I didn’t want to make a toy that you could just play with indoors. I wanted something that creates a certain amount of freedom and allows kids to explore their environment.

“I think the judges liked how functional it was and how much I’d thought about the process. I spoke about things like moulding costs and tooling costs which I think impressed them.”

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The winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony in London on 27 June and Elly is looking forward to the chance to meet other designers.

“I’m really looking forward to collecting my award,” she said. “It will be a great opportunity to talk to people and I’ve already had people contacting me to say they like my design and would like to chat.”

With her graduation looming this summer, Elly is hoping that the £2,000 prize will provide a great platform for her career in the design industry.

She added: “I’m going to upgrade my laptop and buy a subscription to Adobe Suite and set myself up as a freelance designer.”

Posted on Tuesday 5th June 2018

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