What is a cool product design? We’ve rounded up 10 of what we consider to be among the best. Our criteria are that the products should be aspirational, good looking, sustainable and either designed or manufactured in our region.
Across the region there are many companies which are already hugely successful in terms of product design and function. In the top 10 of the list must surely come Malmesbury-based Dyson.
The company’s vacuum cleaner designs are now iconic, and its more recent products, including the hairdryer and air purifiers are equally as successful and beautiful to look at.
But great product design isn’t new. Think of the Anglepoise lamp. It was based on a new spring and lever mechanism invented in 1932 by automotive engineer George Carwardine.
This system allowed the lamp to remain in position after being moved in every direction. It became popular immediately and demand soon outstripped supply, so Carwardine licensed it to Herbert Terry & Sons, a manufacturer based at Redditch in Worcestershire that supplied springs to industry. Almost 100 years later it remains an iconic design.
Then there is the lowly lawnmower. In 1830, Edwin Beard Budding patented “a new combination and application of machinery for the purpose of cropping or shearing the vegetable surface of lawns and pleasure grounds”. Before the invention of the lawnmower, grass was cut by scythes.
Edwin, a mechanic who built and repaired machinery for the textile mills in the Stroud valleys, got the idea for his lawnmower from the cross-cutting machines used to finish woollen cloth. Apparently, more than 1,000 were manufactured and sold from the Phoenix Iron Works in Thrupp, near Stroud.
And of course, Concorde, by far and away the world’s most beautiful (but OK we admit, not the most sustainable), aircraft was built at Filton in Bristol.
The origins of the Concorde project date back to the early 1950s when Sir Arnold Hall, Director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, asked the noted Welsh aeronautical engineer Morien Morgan, to form a committee to study the potential of supersonic transport. They delivered their first report in 1955.
In 1959 Hawker Siddeley and Bristol Aeroplace Company produced preliminary designs based on the distinctive and slender delta concept.
The project, by this time a co-operation between the UK and France, launched its first flight from Toulouse in 1969. Concorde 002, the first UK-built aircraft, flew from BAC Filton to RAF Fairford just 31 days later, piloted by Brian Trubshaw.
Rupert Wilkinson, Director at Oxford Product Design, said: “Good product design must meet a real need to be successful. What has also changed over the years is that product designers must consider the effect that their designs have on our planet. Concorde – while aesthetically very beautiful – was unsustainable. We care deeply about the impact our work has on the planet and are members of Oxfordshire Greentech – an organisation that encourages innovation, collaboration and knowledge transfer towards a sustainable, low carbon future.”
Could one of these 10 cool products have as much impact at the mighty Concorde?
In association with Oxford Product Design, we showcase 10 of the regions coolest product designs…
Urban e-cargo and micro-mobility vehicle.
The EAV e-cargo bike, designed and manufactured near Bicester in Oxfordshire, is powered purely by humans and a unique electrical assist mechanism. As soon as the rider begins to pedal, the EAV’s motor, which stands between pedal input and wheel, kicks in. And you don’t have to be fit. If you can use your legs, you can pilot an e-cargo bike.
Designed and manufactured in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1926, this classic bicycle company continues to innovate.
Designed in 2003 by four friends studying at the Royal College of Art in London. They designed a revolutionary new chicken house which made it simpler to keep chickens in gardens. The team established Omlet to commercialise their design. Since then Omlet’s designs have sold around the world.
Extensive research has been carried out by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to distinguish the world’s five most common facial shapes. Using this research JSP has developed the Force®8 half-mask available in sizes to fit a variety of facial shapes. With easy maintenance and replaceable PressToCheck™ filters, this mask is more sustainable, reusable, and affordable. The award-winning filter technology allows users to perform a fit check each time they wear their mask. Designed and manufactured by JSP Ltd based near Witney.
A pioneering, Oxford-based adaptive optics technology company which aims to have a major impact on the future of augmented and virtual reality for eyewear. Adlens Taskmaster lens system is a new prescription alternative to varifocals, occupational eyewear or wearing multiple pairs.
A British electric motorcycle with a removable battery that you can charge from any plug socket. It’s light, clean and affordable says its makers. Designed and manufactured in Coventry. It has no gears, no petrol, no smell, no noise and it’s easy to ride.
Ahead of the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, GB Snowsport and Williams Advanced Engineering, based at Grove in Oxfordshire, unveiled new sit-ski technology for the UK’s Para Nordic athletes. The sit-ski has since become commercially available through Williams Advanced Engineering as a bespoke low volume product for elite competition use.
Made from organic Fairtrade cotton and PETA-approved vegan material, Y.O.U underwear is as good for the world as it is for our wardrobes. It also has a buy-one-give-two promise, meaning it donates two pairs for every pair purchased.
London Electric Vehicle Company
Once a traditional vehicle manufacturer, the London Electric Vehicle Company now manufactures its electric taxis at Ansty, near Coventry.
An estimated 46 per cent of gas customers don’t know how to turn their gas off, and many millions wouldn’t physically be able to, even if they knew how. This product solves that problem.
Designed to enable vulnerable customers to turn off their gas easily in an emergency – and turn off automatically if it detects fire.
This feature has been published inside our May Issue of Business & Innovation Magazine in association with Oxford Product Design.
To see the feature in print, read our latest edition online