Not quite Dieter Rams yet… but it is nice to be recognised for my design work by so many people who are genuinely interested in what I’ve been doing.
It all started in summer, while working at product design consultancy 4c Design, I was given my own individual project to work on amongst the organised chaos of various other team projects. It was nice to be in charge of my own project (with guidance from my boss Robin), just as I am at university, but this time being able to design and work for a real user with specific needs. I was introduced to Lenny, 11, and told about his condition, interstitial lung disease. It means his lungs cannot take in enough oxygen themselves, and he needs a constant supply from a liquid oxygen tank, which he must carry around in a backpack. There are more details of the project in my portfolio, but in essence my task was to design and manufacture a new backpack, which would allow Lenny to run around outside more easily, without the discomfort of the tank bashing against his back. Of course the aim was to also ensure it was suitable for other daily activities, such as walking to school, being in the house and general childhood antics.
Lenny is one of the most lovely little boys I have had the pleasure of meeting, and was grateful of my work at every stage. It was without doubt the most rewarding project I have worked on to date. Being able to see the hugely noticeable improvements compared to the old bag, it was clear the product had changed his daily routine in many ways. On my last visit, Lenny even told me he had started playing football with his friends at school, something he had always avoided previously due to the restrictions of the old bag. He was really enjoying it and it was amazing to think that something I made had given him the opportunity to participate, where he previously could not.
The media attention was never really expected. Through a publicist for the charity, Child Lung Foundation, an article in the Daily Record seemed like a vague possibility. However it wasn’t until the Glasgow School of Art got on board in Novemeber that it really started to snowball. Next thing I was recording interviews for the BBC and a day later it was out on TV BBC News (and my mum was calling me up in tears). The interesting thing to me is that once the story is out there, it seems anyone can pick it up. Soon ITV were calling about potential interviews, the Daily Mail ran a story (providing a huge audience), and one of the online BBC Dragon’s was putting me as the face of an article hailing British inventions. With a huge course presentation on the Friday and all this going on on the Thursday, it was hectic to say the least. A few days later, while working in the library, I was suddenly bombarded with texts to tell me I’d been featured on Russell Howard’s Good News (seems it has a much larger student audience than BBC News does). I started to wonder what other media outlets had picked it up without my knowledge, and soon found articles on The Herald and Metro as well as hundreds of tweets, it even reached ‘Ghana News’! Just the other day the University called about the quote I’d given them for ‘the newsletter for prospective applicants’, I was rather confused until I realised they had just ‘quoted’ me from various other press publications.
Don’t get me wrong, all the media attention has been extremely beneficial, it was just interesting to find that permission was no longer needed once the story had been run once. I am also extremely thankful to 4c for giving me the opportunity and enabling me to receive this publicity.
Here are the links to all the articles I’ve found to date –
Russell Howard’s Good News – Series 7, Episode 10, clip at the end
4c Design – Blog Post
Glasgow School of Art – Hannah’s backpack gives Lenny a new lease of life
Daily Record – High-tech schoolbag helps brave lad overcome lung disease
The Sun – Let’s hail a nation of great inventions
The Renfrewshire Gazette – Lenny’s backpack keeps him alive
The Metro – Now Lenny’s up and Running
Ghana Nation – Boy can’t leave house without oxygen