Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
Designer: Maxime Dubreucq
School: Umeå Institute of Design
Award: Student Winner
EG is the first helmet truly dedicated to mining. This will bring a new standard to head protection and comfort for miners. The ergonomic layered architecture and enhanced weight distribution reduces stress, load and fatigue for users carrying the helmet. This design solution will prevent work-related injuries and irreversible damages. As the jury team notes:
It's quite an innovation in the mining helmet industry with a breakthrough in ergonomics and material application. It shows another way to fix a current problem.
How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
Social networking is one of the best way's to discover that you have been granted a prize. I was in France, back from Sweden and ready to fly to San Francisco. Meanwhile, friends of mine where flooding Facebook and Twitter with the great news. Their congratulatory messages were my first indication that my project had been selected amongst the other strong entries.
What's the latest news or development with your project?
Trying to increase safety and ergonomic for miners was not a simple task. When it comes to extreme environments, every single aspect of the project has to be taken seriously. EG shows another way to fix current problems. Like human skin, EG is a bio-inspired concept, taking its reference in nature's protection. It take into consideration miners' safety, ergonomics, image and hygiene by exploring new material combinations, function, architecture, comfort and style based on research on miners.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
Sometimes ethics and economics don't really match... Since mining companies aim to dig faster and lead to irreversible damages to our ecosystem, I was frustrated to work for such an organization. Nevertheless, as a student and future designer, I had to fulfill our client wishes. I decided to tackle the project through my point of view: Solve a problem that miners directly encounter without influencing the mining activity. In this project, I have learned to satisfy both, clients and personal values. It was a rich experience to work with and for miners.
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Thomas Degn is the Director of the Advanced Product Design program, at Umea Institute of Design (Sweden). He introduced my class to this project, our client Boliden AB and our collaborator, Atlas Copco AB. Thomas followed us until the end of the project and gave us an external point of view. I asked him to answer this last question.
Here is his response:
The biggest "a-ha" moment in this and other design projects that has a user-centered design approach in combination with on-site participatory ethnography research, is the insight that many of the everyday problems have not been solved yet. This, together with genuine empathy from the designer and his or her vision that it is possible to make something better than what already exists, gives the potential for us designers to creative new and innovative solutions and products. The work of Maxime and his classmates at the APD programme is to me a clear example of this.
--Thomas Degn, Programme Director, APD programme
From my point of view, the project was on a good track when I realized that miners could wear a part of their underground life outside. Showcasing their dangerous work through the soft part of the helmet and increase their image, which was till now, victim of a bad reputation. It is for me one of my first project that goes beyond simple problem solving.