Two students from Kingston University have taken home prestigious New Designers Awards worth a combined total of £41,000. Cameron Rowley, 23, won the Conran Shop’s inaugural Designer of the Future Award with his One Step Ladder design, and Ellie Perry won The John Lewis & Partners Award for Design and Innovation for her sustainable alternative to household fridges.
The Kingston School of Art students beat off stiff competition from thousands of fellow students across the UK. 'When using step stools and ladders around the house, it is usually for a very brief moment and with only one step,' said Cameron. 'I wanted to create an object that facilitated this behaviour while maintaining a smaller footprint.'
Cameron said the product was designed for use around the house for tasks which involves reaching higher kitchen cabinets or dusting the ceiling, adding: 'Its beauty is a consequence of its process and function.'
The ladder took inspiration from everyday objects. 'I'm very interested in objects of use, tools that we use every day. Many are very functional yet beautiful,' he said. 'Looking at how shovel handles are manufactured, I was able to make the ladder's body from one single piece of air-dried ash from top to bottom rather than two separate pieces, like a traditional ladder. This makes it easier to hold onto and move around.'
Judged by a panel of notable designers including Lord Norman Foster and The Conran Shop's Chief Creative Officer, Stephen Briars, the One Step Ladder was praised for its functionality and elegant design.
As well as receiving the Designer of The Future Award, the £40,000 prize comprises a £3,000 cash prize and a paid internship, with the rest of the money going towards developing Cameron's ladder and bringing it to market.
The second Kingston student to win an award was Ellie Perry who designed the Terracooler, which aims to resolve modern day energy consumption and food waste by providing an alternative to household fridges. The product was designed in response to research highlighting that the UK produces 14 million tonnes of food waste each year and that 10 per cent of household energy is consumed by fridges.
'I began looking at zeer pots, which are made from terracotta and have been used to cool food in rural Africa for centuries,' Ellie explained. 'Terracooler is a modern take on zeer pots using a ceramic moulding technique called slip casting. The terracotta absorbs the water over time, cooling the food as it evaporates with three compartments for vegetables, fruit and dairy.'
The product is also designed to raise awareness of waste habits. 'Its size is intended to make the user think about how much they should be storing at one time to limit waste. It is not big enough to store loads of food that you can forget about,' Ellie added.
Judged entirely by John Lewis & Partners' product design team, Terracooler was commended for its great reinterpretation of a traditional technique into a product fit for the future.
Ellie was awarded £1,000 and will spend a day with the John Lewis & Partners product design team.
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