DMU students reach finals of national design competition

Designs to encourage more children to get into gardening and a bee-friendly planter have won two De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students a place in the finals of a competition for the best new design ideas.

Fatima Abedi Manji and Olivia Alexander of DMU’s Product Design course have made it to the final six from 140 entries to this year’s Design Innovation in Plastics competition.

Design finalists
All six finalists - the winners will be announced on Friday

The competition brief, Branching Out – Design For Garden Innovation, challenged them to design an innovative product, primarily from plastics, that will better connect people with nature. The students were asked to present their products to the judges, who include nationally and internationally renowned experts in the field of polymers, innovation and design.

Fatima came up with Gingko – a planter for urban spaces designed specifically with children in mind to share the joy of gardening with young people. Olivia’s design, Buzz, delivers an anti-mite compound directly to bees. The bee population, particularly honeybees, have been devastated by diseases such as varroa which is spread by mites.

Olivia’s third year major project was to design a contemporary beehive. She worked with Leicestershire and Rutland Beekeeping Association where she learned about the devastation caused to honeybee colonies by varroa mites.

She is planning on making Buzz from sustainable plastics so it can be easily recycled. She said: “I am so pleased that I have reached the finals with a product that I am really proud of which helps to raise awareness about an environmental issue I have become very passionate about over the year.”

Fatima said: “When I was doing my research I was looking at work that had described children as the ‘indoor generation’ because they seem to spend so much time inside, and also the benefits of gardening. We don’t all have gardens, especially with many young people living in flats so I designed a planter for children which can be put on a balcony and can be built in different ways from its basic design. The whole planter is fully recyclable because I want children to learn about sustainability as well as gardening.

“The competition has been a fantastic experience. As a student, having the chance to meet people from industry and talk about my designs has been incredible.”

The competition is organised by the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining and the Worshipful Company of Horners, and headline sponsored by Covestro, with support from market leaders in design and innovation. Winners will be announced on July 6.

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Chairman of the judges, Richard Brown, managing director of RJG Technologies Ltd, said: “We had six very good finalists the majority of whom had taken on board the advice given to them when the preliminary judging took place, and some had been able to refine their product further. Ultimately, the judges look for deliverables against the brief and this was the overriding factor that separated the finalists.”

As part of the prize remuneration, the competition winner and one other will be invited to visit DIP headline sponsor, Covestro, in Germany, and each finalist will be offered a short placement with one of the competition sponsors; Brightworks, HellermannTyton, Innovate Product Design, PDD and RJG Technologies.

The prestigious Design Innovation in Plastics Award is the longest-running student plastics design competition in Europe, having been established in 1985.  

Posted on Wednesday 4th July 2018

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