Wearing it well… innovative new clothes hanger invention scoops Easy to Use Design Award
A simple to use clothes hanger, named the Gazelle, has been selected as the overall winner in the Easy to Use Design Awards, run in partnership with Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, Arthritis Ireland and the National College of Art and Design.
Now in their second year, the Easy to Use Awards recognise and encourage innovation in universal design to make everyday products and devices more attractive and usable for everyone, including people living with disabilities.
The winners, Kevin Doherty, Louth and Ronan Murphy, Dublin, both third year Industrial Design students at NCAD, designed a stylish new hanger with an asymmetric design and integrated handle which reduces the effort needed to hang clothes and allows the user to maintain a neutral hand position, reducing the pressure on the joints in the hand.. The pair was inspired to design the Gazelle after speaking with people living with rheumatoid arthritis who told of their frustration and difficulties with everyday household and lifestyle appliances.
The Gazelle was deemed the overall winner by a panel of judges which included entrepreneur Sean Gallagher from RTE’s Dragons’ Den. Commenting on the standard of entries, Sean Gallagher, said, “I was delighted to be asked back to judge the Easy to Use awards. The Awards give students the opportunity to really question the way products are designed and how they will be used by the end users. Even a slight change in perception can make a real difference for those living with disabilities.”
The judges selected an easy to use clothes peg as the overall prize winner in the Business Innovation category. The ‘Green Clothes Peg’, from County Clare based company Tidi. The peg has been designed to remain in place on the clothes line and was deemed particularly easy to use by the judges as it eliminates the ‘pinch action’ required by normal clothes pegs. Constructed from a flexible weatherproof polymer, clothes can be hung by just pushing the peg on to the clothes line.
John Church, CEO of Arthritis Ireland, explained, “People with arthritis, or indeed any disability, can find everyday tasks such as opening a door or making a cup of tea challenging and frustrating as a result of poorly designed appliances. They often have to rely on special tools which are instantly stigmatising. The Easy to Use awards encourage student designers to incorporate the concept of universal design into their work which will result in everyday products which are easy to use for everybody.”
Speaking at the Awards, Geraldine O’Connor, Corporate Affairs Manager, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland, said, “The Easy to Use Awards demonstrate the importance of innovative and creative thinking, particularly in times of a recession. Pfizer is committed to supporting health innovation so we are delighted to partner with Arthritis Ireland and NCAD on the Awards. The standard of work produced by the students is extremely high and reflects the quality of teaching at NCAD.”
Professor Declan McGonagle, Director, NCAD, said “The ‘Easy to Use’ project with Arthritis Ireland and Pfizer has been an excellent learning experience for the students. The project helped the students to think of the wider world and the different ways in which people will use their designs. ”
Along with the overall prize winners, the judges awarded commendations to three other student teams:
- James Brady and Rory White for the Torque screwdriver designed to alleviate pressure on the joints;
- Anna Gallagher and Shane Masterson for the Cinch, a lid design with a built in lever which opens jars while eliminating stress and strain ;
- Calum Haughton and Daniel Quinn for the Easy to Use Tag, a device that easily opens vacuum packed food goods (further information on all projects can be found in editor’s notes below).
Arthritis Ireland runs an Easy to Use Commendation Programme whereby companies are invited to submit their product for assessment by a panel of users. Any product or packaging that meets the criteria and is deemed ‘Easy to Use’ by the panel will receive the Easy to Use commendation and trademark. Further information can be found on www.arthritisireland.ie
Dragons Den judge Sean Gallagher with the winners of the Easy to Use Awards 2011 Kevin Doherty and Ronan Murphy from National College of Art and Design
Published: 8th March 2011.