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Inventive NZers finalists in international James Dyson Award

9 August 2013

Safer quad bike, 3D cast for broken bones, and make-your-own desk chair

Inventive New Zealanders named finalists in international James Dyson Award

A quad bike that doesn’t roll, a lightweight and breathable cast for fractured bones, and a design-your-own desk chair, have been announced finalists in the New Zealand leg of the 2013 James Dyson Award.

Supported by the James Dyson Foundation and British Council New Zealand, the design award run in 18 countries recognises emerging Kiwi designers who have developed inventions that solve everyday problems.

Ten New Zealand entries, including the three national finalists, will progress to the international James Dyson Award competition and the winner could win $73,000 to help commercialise their idea.

Inventor James Dyson said: “I want to celebrate young, inventive problem solvers who are unafraid to question. It's these minds that will solve the challenges of the future."

David Lovegrove, James Dyson Award NZ head judge said: “This year’s James Dyson Award is the first time the judges have seen the emerging trend of owner customisation of products, made possible through digital manufacturing like 3D printing”.

Cortex: by Nelson designer, Jake Evill
Designed by 21 year old Victoria University design graduate, Jake Evill (pron. “iv-ville”), Cortex is a completely breathable, waterproof and lightweight cast for broken limbs. After breaking his hand, Jake was fitted with a conventional cast. Itchy, difficult to scratch and impossible to wear under long sleeve shirts, Jake looked to design something better.

His solution was to scan his fractured hand with a 3D printer to produce a reconstructed 3D model. Parts are then snapped together to create a snug fit on the broken limb and ventilation comes to the arm through its ‘holey' membrane. The honeycomb-patterned cast provides extra reinforcement to where the bone is actually broken, versus engulfing the entire limb in a heavy cast.

Said Jake: "Wrapping an arm in two kilos of clunky, soon to be smelly and itchy, plaster in this day, seemed archaic to me."

Tahr Quad, by Auckland designer, Nick Marks
Four wheel quad bikes popular for farming can roll over in difficult terrain causing 850 injuries in New Zealand every year. Tahr Quad is a bike designed specifically for farming. It uses a completely different suspension and chassis system in combination with intelligent computer technology to prevent four wheel vehicles from rolling.

Nick Marks, a 24 year old designer from Torbay, Auckland designed an automatic balancing system, which borrows its principle from two-wheel bikes which lean into corners. Internally it gyrates and shifts the bike’s mass and lowers its centre of gravity, stabilising the vehicle and rider. All four wheels are designed to maintain contact with the terrain.

Fabseat, by Wellington designer, Evan Thomas
Evan Thomas, a 23 year old Massey University industrial design graduate from Lyall Bay looked to reduce waste and increase pride of ownership in the things we own. Evan created Fabseat, a desk chair that people can create for themselves by using materials that have been cut to their individual body measurements and cushioning preferences. The chair is designed online by the individual, materials are then sent from local suppliers and it is up to the person to follow simple steps to build their unique slat chair.

Evan said:” Fabseat is not a standardised chair. It’s a scratch-built piece of furniture custom made by the owner.”

David Lovegrove said: “Fabseat was appealing in its resolution and simplicity as well as the idea that it can provide more relevance to digital manufacturing.”

Established in 2001 the James Dyson Award is held in association with British Council New Zealand, The Designers Institute and IPONZ to recognise and reward up and coming Kiwi designers with product design ideas that best demonstrate innovative and inspiring solutions to everyday problems.

British Council Country Director Ingrid Leary said the James Dyson Award is a great example of New Zealand and Britain working together to share best practice and ingenuity, and come up with innovative and practical solutions to resolving modern day problems that resonate in both countries.

“Many of the winning designs go on to be developed and sold commercially, providing a great career platform for the young designers who created them, as well as a genuine contribution to societies globally.”

The national winner will travel to the UK for the London Design Festival next month. They will earn a $3000 cash prize for travel, plus an official fee package from the Intellectual Property Office of NZ (IPONZ).

The James Dyson Award is supported by the James Dyson Foundation, a registered charity whose aim is to inspire and excite young people about design engineering.

The winning New Zealand entry will be unveiled at a ceremony to be held in Auckland on Thursday, 22 August. Entries can be viewed on


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