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Novel ways to make music and hit the right chord

Stackable, flexible buttons which encourage music comprehension, creation and play has won a prestigious innovation award and praise from top plastics industry experts.

Michael Tougher, a 4th year student at Glasgow School of Art, secured £1,000 as well as two prestigious  industry  placements: one with Bayer MaterialScience, one of the world's leading suppliers of high-performance materials such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes, at its headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, and the other in the UK with Hasbro, the multinational toy and board game company, for his project 'Dots’, after winning the Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) 2014 award.

The second placed student, Helen Campbell (Glasgow School of Art) wins £500 plus a placement with competition sponsor Innovate Product Design, for her construction system ‘Stackpaks’ using recycled dairy product packaging.

The third prize of £250 and a placement with leading product innovation consultancy PDD, was awarded to Nikian Aghababaie (Nottingham Trent University) for his ‘Musical Chairs’ that encourages autistic children to relate to each other through music, light and vibration.

Three further Highly Commended prizes were awarded: Lee Gold wins £100 and a placement with G&A Moulding Technology for ‘Platonic Plastics’, a visual, kinaesthetic product for making learning about plastics more fun: Freddie Paul, a student at London South Bank University, wins a prize of £100 and a placement with HellermannTyton, suppliers of high performance cable management solutions, for ‘Brainstorm Ballz’, a brain-storming tool to stimulate divergent thinking; and Stephen Vaughey, from Dublin Institute of Technology, wins £100 and a placement with industrial design agency Brightworks for ‘Creator’ a modular plastics kit designed to stimulate the imagination for making custom armatures for building self-supporting, pose-able structures out of Plasticine.

The competition brief was to design an educational product in plastics that stimulates divergent thinking and creativity.  It had to be original, functional and innovative, and above all, provide an engaging playful experience. Consideration had also been given to the target market, including age, and likely reasons for using the product.

Industry expert Richard Northcote, Chief Sustainability Officer, Bayer MaterialScience, added: “Working with young people is vital as they are the innovators of tomorrow. We would not have the company we have today without talent, which is why we have to invest in future generations to ensure our company will have a sustainable future in years to come.

“The hard work and dedication which is clearly demonstrated here today, ultimately forms the building blocks of our company now, and well into the future.  I’m hugely impressed with the standard of entries and congratulate each and every student for their interpretation of the brief and their careful choice of material selection.”

Richard Brown, Chairman of the judging panel also added:  "We are always amazed and never disappointed at how our young designers deliver the brief. There was much debate and discussion but the overall winner, exemplifies the talent there is in our young design community.

“The judges are challenged every year with the excellence of the entries. It demonstrates the quality of the teaching at our universities and the design talent there is in the UK.  Again this year we have six excellent finalists who have excelled in delivering a solution to the brief."

Looking forward, the students have aspirations to take their designs to market. Thanks to the DIP mentoring scheme, newly introduced in 2013, post-award support is offered to all the finalists with the goal of helping them take their design ideas closer to commercial realisation.

Organised and sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience, the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners, Design Innovation in Plastics is supported by market leaders in the fields of design and innovation.



First prize
Michael Tougher, Glasgow School of Art, DOTS
Stackable, flexible buttons representing musical notes that encourage music
 comprehension, creation and play

‘DOTS’ are stackable, flexible buttons representing individual musical notes to encourage music comprehension, creation and play and help inspire more people to create music.    Each button emits a sound when pressed and the buttons can be stacked to produce a chord. The unit can be connected to other technology such as a tablet.

Michael wins £1000 plus an expenses-paid placement with Bayer MaterialScience, Germany a UK placement with Hasbro, the American multinational toy and board game company, plus the Alan Griffiths Trophy


Second prize
Helen Campbell, Glasgow School of Art, Mü STACKPAKS
A construction system using recycled dairy product packaging

‘Stackpaks’ is a construction system for using recycled dairy packaging. A slotting mechanism transforms the pots into a construction toy.

Helen wins a £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, Wiltshire


Third prize
Nikian Aghababaie, Nottingham Trent University, MUSICAL CHAIRS
A product that encourages autistic children to relate to each other through music,
light and vibration

‘Musical Chairs’ is an educational toy to help autistic, blind and deaf children aged five to 10 communicate. The product is a set of seven seats that vibrate, produce sound and illuminate providing sensory stimulation, whereby each seat corresponds to a note of the C Major scale. Each seat contains a switch activated by a child rocking, causing it to produce a tone, light the silhouette of the letter and all seven seats to vibrate. This means that blind children associate sounds with vibrations and deaf children associate each lit up letter with vibrations allowing them to feel each sound. Sequentially each child rocks and together makes simple melodies. This aid allows children with autism to have an alternative way to communicate with others without the need for physical contact, eye contact or speech (which they often find difficult). In addition, this toy is suitable for any child without special needs, keeping them active whilst learning the basis of music and cooperation with others.

Nikian wins £250 plus a placement with PDD, London

Highly Commended
Lee Gold, Coventry University, PLATONIC PLASTICS
A visual, kinaesthetic product for making learning about plastics more fun

‘Platonic Plastics’ is a visual, kinesthetic educational product aimed bringing more enjoyment into learning about plastics. It consists of a multi-faceted, polygon shell that can hold interchangeable inserts (swatch samples). Each swatch face is divided into five segments illustrating different surface finishes etc.  

Lee wins £100 plus a training course of his choice with
G&A Moulding Technology Limited, Peterborough

Freddie Paul, London South Bank University, BRAINSTORM BALLZ
A brain storming tool designed to stimulate ‘light bulb moments’ and divergent thinking

‘Brainstorm Ballz’ is a brain-storming tool designed to stimulate ‘light bulb moments’ and divergent thinking. It consists of a concept ball that holds a selection of ‘inspiration’ discs that are printed with random words, and a frame for launching the ball. The ball is caught by a member of the team and starts the flow of creative ideas. 

Freddie wins £100 plus a placement with HellermannTyton, Manchester

Stephen Vaughey, Dublin Institute of Technology; CREATOR
A modular plastics kit for constructing armatures for structures made of modelling materials

‘Creator’ is a modular armature kit aimed at children aged six and over. It develops fine motor skills, creativity and problem solving by changing the way Plasticine is currently played with. It is comprised of six parts that assembled through either an interference fit or a ball and socket style snap-fit allowing assemblies of various combinations to form fully pose-able armatures which can be covered with Plasticine (or a similar material). Shapes to be produced that could not support themselves if made wholly from Plasticine and the connection allows freedom of rotation so the assembled components are fully pose-able. Proposed manufacturing methods are extrusion and injection moulding in acetal copolymer due to its low friction and excellent snap-fit properties.

Stephen wins £100 plus a placement with Brightworks design consultancy, Somerset

All finalists also receive one year’s free membership of the Institute of Materials,
Minerals and Mining

Founded in 1985, the Design Innovation in Plastics Award is a student competition jointly sponsored and run by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and The Worshipful Company of Horners, with the continued support of Bayer MaterialScience as the principle industry sponsor. The Award also acknowledges support from a number of key industry sponsors*.

Details of the 2014 Award will soon be available on the Award website: www.designinnovationplastics.org and also via Twitter,  DIP (@designinplastic), which will post regular updates nearer the time.


For further press information and images please contact:
Anna Litherland, Bayer Plc
T: 01635 563008 E: anna.litherland@bayer.com

For DIP Admin Enquiries:
Sylvia Katz, DIP Committee
E: sylviakatz@designinnovationplastics.org.uk   

Note to editors

  • Established in 1985, Design Innovation in Plastics is the longest running student plastics design award in Europe. For more information visit www.designinnovationplastics.org
  • Bayer MaterialScience is one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and high-performance plastics. Its coatings, adhesives, insulating materials and sealants, polycarbonates and polyurethanes can be found in applications ranging from automotive, construction, electrical, electronics and household, to sports and leisure. For more information, visit www.bayermaterialscience.com     
  • The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) was created from the merger of The Institute of Materials (IOM) and The Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IMM), and now incorporates the Institute of Packaging. The IOM3 is the professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions. For more information visit www.iom3.org
  • The Worshipful Company of Horners is one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London and was formed to regulate the horn-working trade. In 1943 it adopted its modern equivalent, the plastics industry. For more information visit www.horners.org.uk
  • *Special thanks are due to the following sponsors:
    • Innovate Product Design: specialises in helping individuals to protect, develop and commercialise their new product ideas and inventions
    • G&A Moulding Technology: an independent, non-biased company offering injection moulding industry support, training and advisory services
    • Hasbro UK: From toys and games, to television programming, motion pictures, digital gaming and a comprehensive licensing program, Hasbro strives to delight its global customers with innovative play and entertainment experiences.
    • PDD: provides integrated design and innovation skills, working with organisations worldwide to develop novel products, services and business processes that drive revenues and create competitive advantage
    • Brightworks: an award-winning UK product design and development consultancy dedicated to helping other companies develop the best products for their customers, their markets and their brands
    • HellermannTyton:  one of the leading suppliers of products for fastening, fixing, identifying and protecting cables and their connecting components
    • Our media partners: Materials World and Mould Technology
  • The judging panel
  • Richard Brown (Chairman), Managing Director, G&A Moulding Technology
  • Mandy Haberman, Director, Haberman Products
  • Rob Holdway, Director, Giraffe Innovation
  • Dr Robin Kent, Managing Director, Tangram Technology
  • Morag Hutcheon, Creative Director, Quadro Design Associates
  • Mike Stuart, CAE Engineer, Bayer MaterialScience
  • Sergio Malorni, Principal – Medical Engineering, PDD

The winners’ presentations will remain on display until the end of July 2014 at the IOM3, 1 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5DB. Tel: 020 7451 7300.