Here is a selection of projects from this years cohort…
SAPU / / Danielle Coffey has developed a proposal for reducing the amount of household fats, oils and grease (FOGs) that pollute and damage our water systems. Sápu is a kitchen product that offers householders a quick and easy way to filter, collect and repurpose used FOGs into soap. The design confronts a common issue of what to do with these waste byproducts of home cooking, which are typically washed down the sink and contribute to water pollution or infrastructure issues such as fatbergs.
Sápu was designed in response to a brief set by the Room_Y innovation department at John Lewis. Students were asked to develop a proposal that exploits untapped or neglected resources in the urban environment as a way of addressing the challenges of climate change, population growth and dwindling resources.
Coffey’s research identified that FOG blockages are responsible for around 80 per cent of water-system issues, and approximately £100 million worth of damage to systems and the environment. Households incorrectly disposing of pollutants are the biggest contributor to blockages in the water system. Sápu aims to improve future water quality by instilling behavioural changes that will encourage correct disposal or reuse of FOGs.
The design features a three-part polypropylene filter that the FOGs are poured into before being mixed with lye and water in the main compartment. The resulting fluid can be combined with herbs or spices, and is then distributed into moulds to solidify and form a soap for everyday household use. Sápu’s form and materials echo the visual language of common kitchen products, and its components can be easily separated for cleaning. The product represents a simple, practical and intelligent option for improving water quality through the correct disposal of FOGs.
Danielle Coffey - Sápu addresses one of the most pressing issues of tomorrow’s world: water pollution. Designed as an environmentally friendly alternative to the sink disposal method, the concept encourages homeowners to collect their own FOG waste and transform it into natural soap. The techniques used are both traditional and safe and can be easily personalised by introducing organic additives such as essential oils, herbs, rinds and seeds.
FUNGI FACTORY / / Jamie Pybus has developed a kit that allows users to grow oyster mushrooms at home using their waste coffee grounds as a growing medium. Fungi Factory is a system that promotes a new use for the increasing volume of coffee grounds that are discarded by UK households. The group of four products is used to grow and process edible mushrooms in just four weeks.
Fungi Factory was designed in response to a brief set by the Room_Y innovation department at John Lewis. Students were asked to develop a proposal that exploits untapped or neglected resources in the urban environment as a way of addressing the challenges of climate change, population growth and dwindling resources.
Pybus identified that of the 95 million cups of coffee consumed every day in the UK, up to 65 per cent are consumed at home. This leads to an enormous amount of waste coffee grounds, which actually retain up to 99 per cent of their original nutritional value after use. The coffee grounds are a perfect fertile medium for growing mushrooms, and the Fungi Factory system aims to make this process straightforward for home users.
The designer collaborated with YMCA Newcastle’s Urban Mushrooms initiative during the research phase of his project. The organisation collects coffee grounds from cafes around the city and uses them to grow mushrooms in unused urban spaces. Pybus’s project applies the same concept in a domestic context and provides users with the tools to produce their own mushrooms.
The system comprises four products that combine to put the raw coffee waste to good use. Loose coffee grounds or waste from single-use pods are inserted into a storage container and mycelium spawn is introduced, which then germinates and begins to form the mushrooms. Adjusting the carbon-dioxide levels inside the fruiting environment helps to keep the mushrooms healthy for up to three fruiting cycles. The output from this process includes the oyster mushrooms, as well as mushroom stems called chog that can be processed using a grinder and then formed into mushroom burgers. The matured mycelium can also be composted or harvested and moulded to create durable products for use in the home.
Jamie Pybus - The concept helps to highlight possibilities of waste recycling within the home by bringing the often unseen, circular economy into the hands and control of people. The Fungi Factory is environmentally rewarding through its recycling, whilst providing an equally significant benefit to people’s healthy eating habits.
Shrinking space-intensive processes into a home-sized product is vital to the success of local manufacturing and food production. I really wanted to create a system that was visually interesting and could get both adults and children interested in the product’s function and potential benefits. I want to communicate the importance of recycling waste produce and demonstrate the environmental and health benefits that can be gained within the home.
LIFE / / Harry Jones has developed a proposal for a fashion label aimed at drawing attention to the struggles faced by refugees seeking to enter Europe. The range of lifestyle products is manufactured from life vests used by refugees during sea crossings, and was created to heighten our appreciation for the dangers these people face.
Jones set himself the brief of portraying the plight of refugees in a positive way. He also sought to highlight the environmental crisis currently facing the planet through the choice of materials used to create the products. The project looks to draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis affecting countries such as Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The designer wanted to provoke an emotional response by confronting users with familiar objects that are adapted and subverted so that they take on a new and more profound meaning.
Jones created a brand called LIFE that aims to raise funds to support people in need through the sale of lifestyle products and clothing with a clear and powerful message. The collection titled Ghostly Ocean Debris utilises lifejackets washed up on European beaches as the raw material for products such as flip flops, placemats, laptop cases and satchels. Rather than becoming landfill, the life jackets are given a new life and the proceeds from their sale help to support this important cause.
LIFE also manufactures its own range of clothing and accessories using organic and ecological materials including natural dyes and faux leather made from food waste. The branding for LIFE and the Ghostly Ocean Debris collection employs a colour palette that evokes the colours found on life jackets, and any additional materials used are clearly marked as recycled.
Harry Jones - The aim of this project is to provoke an emotional reaction in an audience and raise awareness about the ongoing refugee crisis. Theoretically, for this project to be successful it has to go out of business. This would mean that the problem has been resolved and refugees are no longer taking the treacherous crossing over the Mediterranean Sea, leaving lifejackets washed up on the beaches of Europe.
DOG GOES HERE / / Rocky Brooks has created a dog bed for use in rescue centres that is affordable, environmentally friendly and fully recyclable. Dog Goes Here offers an alternative to the plastic dog beds currently used in pet rescue centres, which are often damaged by anxious dogs and need to be disposed of regularly. The clever cardboard product is easy to assemble and can be recycled when a replacement is required. Its low unit price helps to alleviate the high cost of replacing beds within the dog rescue environment.
Brooks’ research identified that the average cost of the plastic beds currently found in the majority of rescue homes is £10-15. For centres housing up to 50 dogs at a time, the cost of replacing beds that can be ruined after just a few days or even hours can quickly add up to a significant amount.
Dog Goes Here is easy to store and cheap to replace, helping rescue centres to focus their funds on other aspects of the dog’s care, without compromising its comfort. Based on quotes from manufacturers, it is anticipated that the bed could be produced at a cost of less than £2 per unit (based on 1,000x units), meaning each bed can be sold at a fraction of the cost of current beds in use.
The flat-pack cardboard dog bed is cut, folded and printed from a single piece of recycled cardboard. It comes with a fully recycled paper sleeve that is removed and disposed of before folding the bed into shape and adding the required bedding. In just three simple steps, the pre-folded cardboard net is transformed into a three-dimensional bed that can be labelled with the dog’s name.
Three different sizes ensure there is a suitable bed for each individual animal. The bed can be recycled if it gets damaged, or once a new home has been found for its occupant.
Rocky Brooks - Hygiene and costs are of critical importance in dog rescue centres. The use of cheap yet robust recyclable materials combined with a purposefully short lifespan means this product could improve the lives of not only the dogs, but also the staff of the rescue centres.
NORTHERN POWERHOUSE / / Tom Jones has created a collection of display-ware featuring tones and textures that reference the architectural heritage of cities in the north of England. Designed during Jones’ final year of study at Northumbria University, the Northern Powerhouse Collection is a response to increasing globalisation within modern design.
Jones’ products physically manifest his pride in the aesthetic grandeur of northern cities. He was inspired by the sweeping curve of sandstone buildings that form Grey Street in Newcastle, and began exploring ways of translating the material palette of different cities into objects that provoke an emotional response.
Each of the objects is based on a defining characteristic of a city within the Northern Powerhouse, which is the name given to a group of core cities in the north of England. These urban areas were central to the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, and are the focus of more recent efforts to boost economic growth in the region. Each city played a different role, resulting in purpose-built architecture that gives the cities their own unique character. Jones’ collection specifically references Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool.
The designer used Jesmonite to accurately replicate the dominant construction materials found in each city. The composite material is produced using additives that can be altered to create different affects, which enabled Jones to accurately replicate the look and feel of Georgian sandstone pillars or terracotta bricks. It was cast in moulds with abstract patterns that introduce a three-dimensional texture to the pieces. The result is a collection of usable objects with a subtle decorative character that evokes the common characteristics of each city.
Tom Jones - I made the Northern Powerhouse collection as a response to the growing globalisation of the design industry. I wanted to create something with a clear identity and appreciation for locality. By making use of my surroundings, I tried to give a recognisable connection between person and place within the objects, which evokes an emotional response from people.