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Quick fix material is design winner

posted 18 Sept 2012, 11:36 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Sept 2012, 11:37 ]

The founder of a London-based company named Sugru, which makes a material that can be used to fix and modify a range of products, wins a top design award. Matt Cowan reports

UK-DESIGN WINNER - Located inside a former button factory in east London, a young company that's putting a new twist on two age-old practices: mending and tweaking.

Sugru is the name of both the company and the product it sells.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh is the founder of the company and the person who had the vision for this transformative product.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, Sugru Inventor saying

"Sugru is a new material. It starts off like play-doh or modelling clay when you take it out of the pack and then you can form it or bond it on to anything and form any shape and overnight it will turn into a really durable, really tactile nice silicon rubber."

Ni Dhulchaointigh says though Sugru is a physical product that helps fix and alter physical goods, it takes inspiration from user generated content on the Internet.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, Sugru Inventor saying

"We are expecting from our online experience to pick and choose features but our physical products are really frustratingly static, you know, if you buy a phone your phone is how it is. If you buy an iron, your iron is how it is. If you buy a pair of shoes and they're uncomfortable you have to wear them in, make do with blisters or whatever. Whereas actually in a lot of cases a small tweak is enough to make something work really well."

In the workshop next door, Ni Dhulchaointigh shows off an array of products that have been transformed through her invention.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, Sugru Inventor saying

"That's the magic of the internet. We could have never dreamed I think of all of the things Sugru is used for, but once it was out there it started to get found by all these people with different interests. So, the thing with the saxophone is that it's obviously a really complicated thing to make but everyone's hands are different. And very often you'll get someone with quite short fingers and it can get very painful to play on a saxophone that's not the right size for your fingers, so you can just use a little Sugru and make it the right shape for you."

But as surprises go - she says nothing could top this:

The Sugru founder was awarded the first ever Design Entrepreneur medal in a special ceremony at London Design Week.

Jane ni Dhulchaointigh, Sugru Inventor saying

"I just want to say it's an honour and I'm thrilled. It's been a long journey from an experiment and an idea to something that's very much alive and has a life of its own today."

Thomas Heatherwick - a former design medal winner himself - says such recognition helps both reflect the strengths of London's design community - and propel it forward.

Thomas Heatherwick, 2010 Design Medal Winner saying

"The design festival now having it's 10th birthday has been something that has drawn attention and has re-clarified the importance of the innovation that has been happening in this city and caused by this city."

Ni Dhulchaointigh believes this recognition will help realize her ultimate vision for Sugru - to build a global business through the power of transformation.

Matt Cowan, Reuters