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Here are Norway’s biggest design talents

Packaging that prevents the incorrect use of medicines. An electric socket that everyone can use. A recipe for better reception and handling of rape victims. A ship navigation system that uses airstreams and scents to communicate with the captain. A LEGO box that becomes part of the play. Here are the winners of the Young Talents Award 2013.

The awards were presented in Oslo on Wednesday, 17 April as part of Design Day, an annual event held by the Norwegian Design Council. Young Talents is a competition that recognises and rewards young, up-and-coming designers.

“This year’s winners have shown great social commitment, and have resolved both complex and everyday issues with empathy and innovation," says Thea Mehl, project manager for the Norwegian Design Council’s Award for Design Excellence and Young Talents Award. “This generation and its designers will be shaping the products and solutions that we are all going to be using in the future.”

Joint 1st place, Design for All category:

Medication for all

Despite the fact that about 130,000 Norwegians have low vision, medicine often comes in packaging that is indistinct for even the most sharp-sighted among us. The print is very small and vital information is mixed with a mass of trivia. And once the packaging has been opened, the pill pack and the instructions can easily end up separated. Two design students decided to do something about this.

“We can all potentially do ourselves harm by taking the wrong medication or the wrong dosage,” explains Maren Skyrudsmoen, who together with fellow student Camilla Monrad-Krohn worked on the project. “Therefore we wanted to develop packaging that would make taking medicine a simple procedure for everyone, rather than come up with a solution aimed only at special groups.”

Serious consequences

The impetus was a study assignment in inclusive design at Oslo’s School of Architecture and Design. Maren Skyrudsmoen and Camilla Monrad-Krohn decided that the focus of their assignment would be medicine and health. The two students contacted the Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted, where they received confirmation that wrongly administered medication is a real problem for many with impaired vision.

“It is not unusual to confuse different medicines, which can have serious consequences for the individual,” adds Maren Skyrudsmoen. “Even though most packaging carries text in braille, this in itself is insufficient in preventing wrong medication or dosaging.”

The Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted put the two students in contact with a woman suffering from low vision. She became the project’s “elite user” and was tasked with evaluating the packaging solutions presently on the market. Based on this feedback, Maren Skyrudsmoen and Camilla Monrad-Krohn came up with several prototypes that the elite user then tested and evaluated.

Everything connected

The result is Cinsona packaging. The most pioneering aspect of this solution is that the pill pack, instructions and outer packaging remain attached in one piece. This reduces the risk of losing information about the medicine, which in turn reduces the risk of taking the wrong medication or dosage.

A simple, one-handed move is enough to open the packaging and flip out the pill pack, meaning that users do not have to take the pill pack out of the packaging every time they need to take a tablet. Colours, contrasts and typeface size are all used in such a way as to draw the user’s attention to the most important information.

Now the two designers are hoping for interest from one of the big players in the pharmaceutical industry so that they can continue their work with Cinsona.

“The packaging makes a useful and practical contribution to society, and is also reasonably easy to put into production,” says Maren Skyrudsmoen. “Receiving the Young Talents Award will hopefully attract the attention we need to fully realise the potential of Cinsona.”

Joint 1st place, Design for All category:

Plugging in made easy

We are acquiring ever more gadgets that run on electricity: mobile phones, TVs, kitchenware… you name it. Yet household plugs have not noticeably developed for decades and often you have to get down on all fours to get all the gadgetry plugged in. Why should such an apparently simple task be so complicated?

This was the question that design student Nima Shahinian asked himself. “It began by chance. I was trying to connect a charger to my portable computer, and I found myself sitting there fumbling and wasting time on it. Then it struck me that what was a momentary irritation for me could very well be a big problem for others.”

Not simply an aid

Shahinian decided to apply the principles of universal design as part of his Bachelor’s degree thesis in product design at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. His assistant professor, Torgrim Eggen, helped him rise to the challenge: “What is the essence of universal design?” was the question posed by this experienced industrial designer.

“I had not really thought about it in quite this way before,” explains Nima Shahinian. “It was important for me not to end up with just another unsightly, stigmatising aid. Instead, I wanted to adopt a completely new approach to the whole concept of plugs and sockets and come up with something that could benefit everyone.”

Through the Delta Centre, whose primary objective is to enable people with disabilities to participate in society on equal terms with other citizens, Nima Shahinian made contact with a rheumatic who provided invaluable input. He then made half-a-dozen prototypes that he gave to family and friends to test.

Genial spiral design

The end result is “Flow”, and it is as simple as it is genial. A spiral design in the bottom of the socket ensures that the plug inserts into the holes of the socket regardless of how it is held. In addition, the edges are rounded so that they serve as a funnel to guide the plug in. Flow is designed to meet all electric plug specifications and safety regulations, and is suitable for large-scale factory production.

“Flow is also aesthetically appealing, insofar as a socket can be,” adds Nima Shahinian. “This makes it well suited to use in both private homes and commercial premises, where it will merge in rather than sticking out as being an aid. Such considerations are extremely important in designing everyday products.”

1st place, open category:

Confidence-inducing surroundings in a crisis situation

Victims of sexual assault find themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation. Therefore it is crucial for them to feel well received by the police and health services. This is a design project that prioritises dignity.

“Everyone who suffers sexual assault is required to go through the same medical and treatment procedure,” explains Manuela Aguirre. “Biological traces must be taken, information gathered, the victim is taken to different rooms for different stages of the medical and treatment procedure, and there are various specialists to deal with. We wanted to see how design can contribute to more confidence-inducing surroundings while combining and serving the interests of the victim, police and health services.”

The project, entitled “Designing for Dignity in a Sexual Violence Response System” is the culmination of a master’s degree thesis Manuela Aguirre wrote together with Jan Kristian Strømsnes at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. The two designers have collaborated with Oslo’s emergency ward and the police and have involved victims, nurses, doctors and police officers. They also made their own observations of the way in which rape victims are received at reception centres.

“For instance, we observed that patients had their hands covered in paper bags to ensure that DNA traces were not lost. That gave us food for thought,” says Manuela Aguirre.

Blanket ensures DNA is not lost

The result is a highly comprehensive solution covering everything from service design to interior architecture, furniture and product design, and visual communication. “We have analysed the whole crisis apparatus from the perspective of all players and devoted a great deal of time and resources to designing solutions that will benefit all parties,” adds Manuela Aguirre.

The project includes three specific concept proposals:

  • A safety blanket that is intended to replace the paper bags. The blanket is wrapped around the patient to provide comfort and warmth, and it also retains any biological traces.
  • A new information system ensures that the patient is provided with the information he or she needs. This is intended to give the victim a sense of having greater control over the way he/she is received and treated at the reception centre.
  • Guidelines are also proposed as to how the reception of rape victims can be designed to meet the needs of both patients and those providing treatment.

The assignment was submitted last year. Since then, Manuela Aguirre has moved to the USA where she is working as a service designer for Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation, while Jan Kristian Strømsnes is now working as an industrial designer for Laerdal Medical in Stavanger. Thus the project now spans seven time zones. The two designers are in dialogue with the police about the safety blanket. In the future it might form part of the standard inventory in police cars, ambulances and fire engines, as well as at medical reception centres.

“The safety blanket is not limited to cases involving sexual assault,” adds Manuela Aguirre. “It can be used in all situations where it is important to ensure against loss of DNA traces.” 

2nd place, open category:

Sensory control for ship navigation

Last year, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate registered 261 accidents involving ships in Norwegian waters. A new steering concept developed by designer Jan Kristian Strømsnes uses airstreams to give the person at the helm of the ship more sensory, intuitive control.

“The project utilises haptic feedback, in other words communication through touch. An example of everyday haptic feedback is the vibration from a mobile phone. In the future the same principle can be used in other, more important areas,” explains Jan Kristian Strømsnes, who gained his master’s degree in industrial design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design last summer.

Kwant Controls, a supplier of nautical instruments to Ulstein Group, became an important partner in the project. Jan Kristian Strømsnes scrutinised shipping accident statistics in Norwegian waters over the last 30 years and noted that the biggest factors were errors in navigation, collisions and fire.

“I saw a need for a steering system that would reduce the risk of human error in ship navigation. With the help of haptic feedback, the person steering the ship can use another sense: that of touch. We can use this technology to prevent accidents at sea, whether they involve collisions with rocks, other ships or even port facilities.”

Air and scents warn of speed and danger

Therefore he has developed a steering concept he calls “Nautical Controls for the Future” as part of his master’s degree studies. The concept offers no fewer than four innovations in ship navigation.

Airstreams pass through perforated holes in the control panel, regulated by engine power. This means the operator can literally feel when the ship is getting greater or lesser power. And by feeling the movements in the steering gear, in demanding situations the captain is able to keep his eyes focused on the danger ahead instead of having to look down at the controls. In an emergency, the airstreams give information about potential danger situations, such as if the vessel is nearing a rock. Artificial scents can also be used to provide an additional information channel after an alarm has sounded.

Enormous potential

“At present this project is at the conceptual level,” says Jan Kristian Strømsnes, “and more research and thought application is required before it can be realised. In principle, haptic feedback can be used not only for shipping, but also in the road traffic and air traffic situations. The potential is enormous.”

Last year, Jan Kristian Strømsnes travelled to the Netherlands to present the project to engineers from Kwant Controls. “It will be interesting to see if the concept can be carried forward. At the same time, it is a tremendous honour to receive this Young Talents Award. For a young designer in Norway, this is the best award you can receive.”

3rd place, open category:

Packaging chaos is in the past

Most parents of small children know all too well what it is like to have pieces of partially torn packaging from children’s toys lying around the house, especially after Christmas and birthdays. Two Norwegian design students have designed a new LEGO packaging that is easier to open, can be reused and also used as a play element.

“We wanted to design a packaging solution for children’s toys,” explains Ola Brandsnes, who has carried out the project together with fellow student Edvin Klasson from the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. “Both of us have a close bond with LEGO from our childhood days, and we realised there were aspects of the present packaging that could be improved on.”

Opened the bags with their mouths

It was important to Ola Brandsnes and Edvin Klasson that the packaging should take children seriously, therefore they embarked on the project with a close study of children at play. Five-year-olds attending Oslo’s Grünerhagen kindergarten helped the two designers test existing packaging solutions.

“The children could not find out how to open the packaging and ended up tearing the whole box to pieces,” recounts Ola Brandsnes. “They opened the plastic bags containing the LEGO pieces with their mouths and the contents ended up spread all over the floor.”

With this learning experience fresh in mind, several prototypes were developed that were put to the mercy of the children. Ola Brandsnes admits that using small children as test subjects presented an extra challenge: “They seldom listened to what we said, and everything we put in their hands was more or less torn to pieces. But we learned a great deal about how we can design products that are simple and intuitive to grasp for children.”

Packaging becomes a building plate

The finished solution, “Tilt and Play!”, opens like a yoghurt container. Then, by turning the box on its head a plate appears that the child can use as a building plate. The waste packaging from this solution is minimal, and afterwards the LEGO pieces can be placed back in the box.

Ola Brandsnes points out that the LEGO Group is not at present playing along: “We have made efforts to approach them, but they are difficult to make contact with. So the packaging will probably not be in the shops in the very near future.”

Talent exhibition

From 24 April to 26 May, the Norwegian Design Council will be hosting an exhibition to showcase this year’s five winners of the Young Talents Award and 14 other promising entries at DogA in Oslo. The exhibition has been put together by curator Benedicte Sunde and is open to everyone with an interest in Norway’s design future.

Young talents 2013:

Joint 1st place – Design for All category: Nima Shahinian – “Flow” and Maren Skyrudsmoen/Camilla Monrad-Krohn – “Cinsona”

1st place – Open category: Manuela Aguirre/Jan Kristian Strømsnes – “Designing for Dignity in a Sexual Violence Response System”

2nd place – Open category: Jan Kristian Strømsnes – “Nautical Controls for the Future”

3rd place – Open category: Edvin Klasson/Ola Brandsnes – “Tilt and Play!”


This article was written by Pressenytt for Norwegian Design Council. Pressenytt has editorial responsibility for the contents of the article.


See video from the opening of the exhibitionPUBLISHED 13.06.2013 12:56

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