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Students display their designs for living in Brighton show

Product design student Rebecca Mark with her Socialeyes idea for teaching social skills to children with autism

University of Sussex students are coming to the rescue, solving life's problems with ingenious designs that will now feature in a special show to open in Brighton this month.

Final-year engineering students on the Product Design degree course will be showing off their innovative ideas to the public at their end-of-degree show, Re:view, this month (9-12 June 2011).

Fellow students and staff at the University who have been invited to a preview on campus will get first glimpse of the product prototypes and displays at a show in the University's ACCA Creativity Zone in Pevensey III on June 8 (10am-4.30pm).

From June 9, the show transfers to the Brighton Media Centre in Middle Street. The students will also be displaying their work at the New Designers show in London in July.

There will be a Private View on the evening of Friday 10 June, when eco-architect and interior designer Claire Potter will give a speech (7.30pm)

Many of the students have been inspired by the need for green solutions to everyday problems, along with consideration for those in need and vulnerable members of society, while others have chosen to find solutions to some of life's everyday problems.

The best design exhibits at the show will be awarded prizes by the show's sponsors - Claire Potter Design, Brighton Media Centre, Grohe, Banham, Vivid Design & Print and SCDF. The student designs  include: 

  • The Adapt Stretcher System, designed by Sam Foreman, was a response to recent manmade and natural disasters around the world.  Designed for use where there are mass casualties, the stretcher dismantles so that large numbers can be easily stored and quickly assembled. Each stretcher features an LED system built in so that patients can be grouped according to priority and type of treatment needed. Sam has already secured a job with an international company that provides technology and vehicles for disaster zones.
  • Socialeyes interactive learning tools for autistic children: Rebecca Mark spent time observing autistic children at a support unit in Sussex, and with an autistic child in Kent to learn about the specific problems faced by those with autism in navigating their world and communicating with others. As a result, she developed two products - a customisable scaled building that can be reconfigured by children to resemble rooms they actually use, with figures that they can use in role play so that they can plan how to react to unusual or unpredictable situations; a wristband that communicates what an individual child is feeling when the child has difficulty in communicating their emotions to carers or teachers. Both products are designed to reduce the stress and frustration and aid social interaction.
  • Thermo-therapeutic jewellery: Diane McSweeney provides pain relief for the fashion-conscious with a range of jewellery that employs heat to ease the aches and pains of conditions such as rheumatism and Raynaud's phenomenon.
  • Tuck-in, a lunchbox redesign that aims to introduce the working lunch eater to a life beyond sandwiches. Designer Greg Whittaker says: "The aim is to reduce the stigma associated with packed lunches by turning the lunchbox into a fashion accessory."
  • Current Chameleon - a child-friendly energy monitor: This design by Elle Tweedy encourages and engages children in developing energy-saving habits around the house. Users clip wireless transmitters around the cables of products to be monitored for energy consumption. The transmitters constantly send a power rating to the Current Chameleon.  The energy consumption is displayed in an intensity bar ranging from green to yellow to red. If energy use is kept low, the counter increases. If it reaches '10' a reward is achieved.  If energy use stays too high, the counter will reset and that reward will be lost.

All of the students spent a year on placement with firms working in the design solution field, and some have already secured jobs in the industry.

Course tutor Mark Jenkins says: "What has also emerged this year is a more empathic and emotional application towards the projects.  This has been revealed with devices and products that will potentially assist and help people exposed to undesirable circumstances such as disasters, accidents or illnesses.  

"On the home front, there has been focused awareness and proposed resolutions applied towards the lifestyles that are typical of working people in the UK today.  Overall our students' projects get more sophisticated and relevant each year. With design influencing more areas of modern society than ever before, this can only be a good thing."

Notes for Editors

Listen to the BBC report on the Product Design Degree Show, broadcast on 9 June 2011. Interview begins 1 hr and 40 minutes in at: BBCRADIOSUSSEX  

For more details about the student exhibits visit:

Or, contact Cathy Warden on 01273 678048

About the Product Design at the University of Sussex:

Product design is about the creation of useful items to meet the needs of real people. Studying product design offers the chance to improve the way we live in many ways, be it technically, commercially or sustainably. It includes appearance and function, and requires science, manufacturing and art for its success. Every year, product design students put together a degree show exhibiting their final -year projects to the public. Our degree show provides an unrivaled opportunity to see the talent of our students and represents the culmination of up to four years' learning, research and development.  The show provides a great opportunity to see the work of tomorrow's leading designers. For more information, see Product Design with One-year placement and Product Design

For details of the New Design Show see

For information about keynote speaker and sponsor Claire Potter see:

University of Sussex Press office contacts: Maggie Clune and Jacqui Bealing. Tel: 01273 678 888. Email:

View press releases online at:

Last updated: Thursday, 9 June 2011