Well the academic year is well underway – and DP2 Major Projects should be in full flow. BUT are your students  stuck for some innovative ideas – have you not managed to get your students to find ‘constructive discontent’ regarding a specific design project. I always find that it is important to not only inspire students but make them understand that the process they are going through is simply NOT EASY for anyone, and that even the best may fail. So they should not worry about their projects leading to success at the first attempt.

The process of designing and producing a successful product can take years and many many prototypes and even then may not be successful – this can particularly be true if the emphasis of the product is not simply to produce a new design and make money for an organisation but has wider ambitions. The following three designs are all focused to improve the opportunities and lives of people in the third world in some way or other. Have a look below to see these three projects which you could show your students to indicate that however good the design idea, however clever the technology, however important the designer – some designs are often very difficult to get from prototype through to successful product : –

The Slingshot – Ten Years and Counting…


This is an amazing device that purifies water using a distillation method to clean any water placed into it. However it has taken 10 years of development – and only when the designer Dean Kamen managed to persuade a multinational company Coca Cola with excellent distribution networks to support and sponsor the device has it started to gain success.  Anyway worth checking out the film – from the Focus Forward Festival.

Questions to ask students – All the Slinshot needs is the power of a small hair dryer – but is this it’s achilles heel?

Kit Yamoyo – Kit of Life medicine pack – Abandoned even though a great idea…

Although this has similarities in that the designer as above utilised the distribution network of a multinational – Coca Cola. And the design in its way is just as innovative – however the idea of utilising existing system for packaging and distributing the kit was deemed not to be effective and so they are already redesigning the product to enable different distribution.

Questions to ask students – Why did the first packaging idea fail?

Unifold – Printable and Foldable Shoes


Your students may be surprised at this innovative idea – simply because to many of them the thought that there is a shortage of shoes in the world would seem unbelievable to them. The innovation is not in the aesthetics of the design – but in the clever idea of taking the actual manufacturing complexities out of shoe design. Just one process and one material – and then these shoes could be manufactured and sent flat around the word. This is a prototype unlike the above two ideas – as it is still at the prototype phase.

Questions to ask students – What is the likelihood of this idea to succeed?

I hope utilising these three projects with your students – will make them think not only about some wonderful ideas but that the most important thing with their major projects is not that it will lead to guaranteed success but that the process will lead to them thinking through a problem and ‘having a go’.