Students' product design degree show gadgets tackle real-life challenges

Scott Mighall with his multi-purpose toy design at the Product Design Degree Show 2013

Black belt Irena Petrovic with her Olympic redesign for karate hand pads at the Product Design Degree Show 2013

James Morgan's model of a recycling bin for small living spaces at the Product Design Degree Show 2013

Will Brett-Atkin with his interactive toy Monster Nakama at the Product Design Degree Show 2013

Finalists studying for a degree in Product Design at the University of Sussex will display their ingenious creations at their degree show this week (Weds 22 May – Sat 25 May).

Exhibits will include an interactive toy for sharing, a recycling solution for people living in flats, a designer-look diabetic kit, a re-design of a budget airline seat, a pop-up shop system, sensory therapy for people with dementia and a multi-configured children’s toy that can convert into a piece of furniture as the child grows older.1

Some of the students were supported by organisations and businesses including Moshi Monster makers Mind Candy, homeless charity Emmaus and recycling cooperative Magpie.

  • William Brett-Atkin:  Will’s interactive toy Monster Nakama (Japanese for friend) splits in half and interacts with an iPad app using Bluetooth technology so that children can play and learn together on and offline. The iPad game uses Augmented Reality to bring the toys to life. Will says: “This toy has been designed to encourage children to socialise in a virtual environment and to physically come together to unlock levels and see whose toy is happiest. Monster Nakama is also an attempt to challenge the fact that video games can make children anti-social.” Will was supported in his development of the toy by leading online gaming company Mind Candy, makers of Moshi Monsters, and has been offered a six-month placement with Mind Candy, which he will take up in July.
  • James Morgan: James’s recycling bin for small living spaces such as flats aims is to ease the process of getting recyclable material from the home to the recycling point. The space-saving, vertically-mounted bin expands as more material is fed into it. The principal component of the bin is reusable, long-lasting, water-resistant polypropylene bag that is easily released, transported, rinsed and re-attached. The bag can be customised with attractive designs. James worked with Brighton-based recycling cooperative Magpie to develop his ideas.
  • Irena Petrovic: Karate black belt Irena has trained her sights on the 2020 Olympics with her re-design of the hand pads used by karate exponents, in preparation for the martial art becoming an Olympic sport. Karate gloves are a part of necessary equipment for training and are used to improve performance and to prevent possible injuries. Irena, who is from Serbia, redesigned the karate pad using innovative materials such as carbon fibre and composite gel, as well as a new ergonomically fitted design. Irena also added a customized element to the design by using 3D laser scanner technology. Irena is a black belt 2nd DAN and has represented her country in karate. Irena says: “My design improves performance at a higher level, as the thickness of the glove helps to make movements feel as they would in a real fight. It’s great to combine my two passions of design and sport and I am looking to focus on sports design in the future.”
  • Scott Mighall: Scott’s product is a creative toy called Cachoo that encourages imaginative play and defies the notion of a limited lifespan for childhood toys. It comprises three very simple shapes made of birch ply and vinyl layers that when assembled work together in a variety of forms to make a car, a train, a horse, a boat or anything that a young child imagines. Cachoo also incorporates a chalkboard, and a whiteboard as the child grows older. Stripped down to its final layer, Cachoo becomes a simple storage box or footstool that can become part of an adult home or even passed on to the next generation.  Scott says: “Fast-changing technology means there is great demand among the young for the most new and relevant products. I wanted to create something that wouldn’t outdate itself, and something that would tell a story about the owner and their life, and these are memories that I wanted to capture.”

Course leader Diane Simpson-Little says: “Our product design graduates have demonstrated outstanding competence in research, critical analysis, design engineering, brand development and human-centred design. Their products draw on explorations into culture, psychology, ergonomics, art, science and commerce.

“Our 2013 Product Design degree show provides you with an unrivalled opportunity to see not only the talent of our students but also, the work of tomorrow’s leading designers.”

The keynote speaker at the Private View (Friday 24 May, 6pm to 9pm) is Peter Stevens, the UK’s best-known designer of race cars, who has designed, among others, for McLaren, Lamborghini, BMW and Lotus.

Notes for Editors

1 The Product Design Degree Show 2013 is open to the public and takes place in the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) Creativity Zone on the University of Sussex campus on Wednesday 22 May and Thursday 23 May from 10am to 5pm; on Friday 24 May from 10am to 4.30pm and on Saturday 25 May from 10am to 4pm. On Friday 24 May there will also be a Private View for invited guests, from 6pm to 9pm.

Full details of all the exhibits can be found on the Design 2013 web site.

Previous Product Design students are already embarking on exciting careers:Sam Tarratt (graduated 2012) was chosen from hundreds of students at the New Designers exhibition in London to be interviewed by the Mars Group nd landed a job as their design manager; Paul Nestoruk (graduated 2012) now works as a surface designer for Jaguar Cars; Adam Gilbert (graduated 2009) is a design engineer at Dyson; and Claire Morgan (graduated 2006) is a product development manager at 20th Century Fox.

The ACCA Creativity Zone

The ACCA Creativity Zone is a multi-configurable, flexible space that is used for teaching and research in Design, Drama, Film, Music and Media. The space is also available to all staff and students for exhibitions, workshops, presentation of project work, open days, community engagement events and other University events.


The ACCA Creativity Zone is situated in Pevensey III, Room C7. Find it on the Campus Map.

Visitors to the show can park free of charge in the events car park just above the Aisin Seiki building (no 41 on the campus map).

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

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Last updated: Tuesday, 21 May 2013