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Designers of the future focus on sustainability

A remote-control gadget allowing you to train your dog from a distance was just one of the innovative designs on display at the University of Sussex this week (12-15 April).

Design fair 2016The University’s annual Sussex Design Show also saw young designers focusing on sustainability, with ideas including a table made using milk cartons and a new method for recycling soft toys. 

The Design Show is the crowning achievement for students who have spent three years on the BSc Product Design degree.

Henry Spencer was exhibiting a remote-controlled dog treat dispenser that will help owners train anxious pets. Henry said: “A lot of dogs have separation anxiety and follow their owners from room to room. Train9 enables you to reward them for being calm when you leave the room.”

Laurie Kay-Gould was showing off an eco-friendly table, built out of materials that have had a previous life such as plastic milk bottles and wooden pallets. Laurie explained: “I took inspiration from the concept of a ‘circular economy’, where products are re-used instead of heading to landfill.”

Megan Walker has invented a process for turning unwanted soft toys into unique fabrics for use in arts and crafts. Megan said: “The inspiration for this project was personal experience of owning excess toys and a desire to ensure a sustainable future. I’ll be showing how every component of a soft toy can be recycled to make a woven fabric.”

Course leader Diane Simpson-Little added: “This year a diverse range of research and design thinking has been undertaken that has crossed the boundaries of many disciplines and resulted in some innovative and feasible solutions.

“Our show therefore provided an unrivalled opportunity to see not only the talent of our students but also the work of tomorrow’s leading designers.”

This year, the show was being supported by First Base, a developer with a reputation for creating innovative spaces and places in London and the South East.

A spokesperson for First Base said: “With a history built on inspiration and innovation, we are proud to support next generation designers from University of Sussex. Like the designers, we see plenty of opportunities to create sustainable futures and to ensure that what we deliver today will be used for many more generations”.

Other students exhibiting at the show included:

  • David Johnson, who has created a sustainable and adjustable office desk with a unique interlocking design, making it easy to assemble and disassemble.
  • Kenia Lozano Pérez, who was displaying a kit that helps teach kids about food waste. The concept includes a recipe scrapbook, smartphone app and instructions for ‘regrowing’ vegetables.
  • Chatura Fernando, whose Monkey Saver app is designed to help young people manage their money and cut down on their harmful habits.
  • Toby Whelan, inventor of a make‑your‑own ‘fidget toy’ for children with autism. Parents and their children will have fun building the toy together, and the finished product helps to harness the developmental benefits of fidgeting.
  • Conor Shimizu, who has developed a combined aquarium and terrarium where users can keep fish as well as growing aquatic and non-aquatic plants. Conor’s design uses Japanese technology to paint growing surfaces with nutrients, encouraging plant growth.