Derek Muir, a design student from the University of Huddersfield, is the winner of this year’s ‘Design Innovation in Plastics’ competition, sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience, one of the leading polymer companies in the world. His entry, the ‘Stingray’ toilet seat won praise from the judges for its design, aesthetics and careful choice of material - in this case integral skin polyurethane foams from Baydur® and Bayflex® product lines from Bayer MaterialScience. Derek wins £1,000 prize money and a one week, expenses paid work placement with Bayer at the company’s global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany. The toilet seat reduces noise by 40 percent and is ideally suited e.g. for parents who may not flush toilets at night in case it might wake up young children. The design works through the underside of the seat forming a complete seal around the rim, plus constant contact between seat and lid, when the lid is lowered. The use of Bayflex® for the seat makes it comfortable, chemically resistant and easy to clean.
This year’s competition required young designers to develop a product of choice under the theme ‘sound design’, with entries being designed predominantly using integral skin polyurethane foam. A record-breaking 348 students initially registered an interest with 85 actually submitting an entry which included a scale model and supporting material. A panel of judges then whittled these down to just eight finalists.
Derek was presented with his award at a ceremony hosted at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London, by Martin Sixsmith, Head of Bayer MaterialScience for the UK and Ireland region. "Derek had genuinely thought about how his design could be produced, considering issues such as material and tooling costs and environmental issues. One of the most pleasing things for me personally, was how he used the properties and advantages of moulded polyurethane in the correct manner. This was one of our main objectives in sponsoring the competition, and I think we got the message across", said Martin Sixsmith.
The second prize went to Huw Roberts (University of Glamorgan) for his "Life Buoy System", which is installed on the banks of rivers and lakes.
Adam Eager from the University of Northumbria won the third prize for his "Sight and Sound Speakers" - small, eye-catching loudspeakers designed as a solution for unintelligible announcements e.g. in train stations.
The "Design Innovation in Plastics" competition aims at full-time product design course students from universities and colleges throughout the UK.
Established in 1984, it is the UK’s longest established student plastic design competition. The objective of the competition is to promote the advantages of modern plastics to nearly 100 UK Colleges and Universities which offer design courses.