Top international airline retail company, The Nuance Group AG has recognised students from UTS Bachelor of Design in Industrial Design program as the best in the world when it comes to producing innovative new products for their stores.
Final year students Bart Milczarczyk and Bjorn Soderstrom wowed an international panel of judges at the recent announcement of The Nuance Product Design Award 2002 with their winning design DVT Fitness: an innovative solution to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis on long-haul flights — a perfect product for an airport retailer.
Coming second in this competition was fellow student Anthony Lenthen who developed a product called the Nuance Minda: a device designed to keep track of expensive personal items such as the mobile phone, laptop, briefcase for the executive traveler.
The Nuance Group AG, the world's largest and most pioneering international airport retailer, which operates some 370 stores and boutiques in 19 countries around the world, contacted the Director of Industrial Design, Cathy Lockhart early in 2002 to invite UTS students to submit entries to the annual Award. Nuance targeted UTS, the only university to participate in Australia, one of ten institutions around the world selected for their academic excellence in the field of product design. Other institutions included the Glasgow School of Art, Konstfack in Sweden and premier universities from France, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Japan.
Milczarczyk and Soderstrom teamed up for this competition when they found that they were thinking along the same lines.
"At the time we were looking into possible products for this competition, there was a lot of exposure in the media about Deep Vein Thrombosis," says Milczarczyk.
"We realized that this was a widespread problem that affects anyone from athletes to old people. There is not really a group that is prone to it more than others. We spoke to physiotherapists and it was suggested that we devise a product that would get people active and get muscles moving."
Their solution? A compact kit that consists of a collapsible massage ball that a passenger can use to massage the bottom of the foot, hands and shoulders, and a flexible stretch band. "It increases the blood flow and circulation and also stretches the muscles," says Soderstrom.
The panel of judges, chaired by Nobuoki Ohtani, a Product Designer and Lecturer from Japan, also included representatives from International airports, the Editor of Frontier magazine in the UK, Hugo Boss, retail designers and representatives from Nuance.
"This year's standard was very high which made the judging process of the models very challenging for our judging panel," says Sandy Rodgers-Trub from the Nuance Group. "We were truly impressed."
Milczarczyk and Soderstrom not only received US$5000 for their effort, they have also been commissioned to design a trophy, which will be presented with cash awards to future winners. Anthony Lenthen's second prize purse was US$2000. Although Nuance is interested in producing both designs and selling them in their outlets around the world, the down turn in the travel industry may mean that this doesn't come to fruition in the near future, however Cathy Lockhart says the experience has been invaluable.
"Working with an international company is a great opportunity for the students to be exposed to this level of competition," says Lockhart. "To be invited to compete on the world stage is a credit to the students and their Alma Mater, to win prizes in this company is a professional achievement that will bring other opportunities for them, and confirms that the UTS Industrial Design program is recognised internationally."