OCAD University designers take home top packaging prize

Photo of competition winners
Image of front and back of cleaner packaging
Monday, June 29, 2015 - 4:00am

Dora Poon (BDes, Industrial Design, 2015) and Zhi Gao (fourth-year Graphic Design student) emerged victorious at the 2015 student design competition organized by the Packaging Consortium (PAC), beating out rivals from Durham, Seneca, Humber, Mohawk and George Brown colleges. This is the second year in a row that an OCAD University team has scored first place.

Professor Stuart Werle offered the contest as a project option for his Packaging Design 2 students in winter 2015. The competition rules stipulated that each team design packaging for a 710 mL bottle of Walmart’s Great Value Eco toilet bowl cleaner. Werle encouraged participating students to demonstrate how their branding and packaging for that product could translate to other items in the Great Value Eco line.

With only one entry permitted for each institution, Werle formed a committee — including Mhairi Robertson, who won the 2014 competition — to select OCAD U’s entry. Members chose Poon’s effort as the top design; however, seeing great strength in Gao’s design, Werle encouraged the two to collaborate.

On June 17, Poon and Gao pitched their work in a seven-minute presentation to more than 200 packaging-industry leaders at the PACEX Toronto packaging show. After all the teams had spoken, the audience voted in real time, with Poon and Gao coming out on top. For Werle, “the key to their design was the blending of very strong branding, packaging graphics and bottle form with truly unique and innovative sustainable elements, including a 5X concentrate EcoPak® that would enable consumers to reuse each bottle without having to recycle them.”

Camping just got a little more fun – Meet the water-powered USB charger

Jesse Cowan
Coast
Coast
Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 8:00pm

Industrial Design student Jesse Cowan has solved a problem.

There’s been a boom in enabled gear for outdoor adventurers – Bluetooth fish-finders connected to your phone, Bluetooth speakers and tons of maps and mobile apps for hiking and camping. But, how do you charge your devices when you’re off the grid?

Jesse’s created Coast, a USB charger that you toss into the water and clip to your canoe or boat. As the charger floats and is pulled in the water, the spinning powers a kinetic turbine. The 7,000 mAh battery can charge your iPhone five times over.

“This is why I love design. It didn’t exist and now it does – I love being creative and making something real,” said Jesse. He loves outdoor adventure and noticed there wasn’t anything on the market that could power his gear with water. “It’s a step forward for people to produce our own energy. It’s industrial product design with a meaning.”

Jesse manufactured Coast himself including using a 3D printer to create the device’s shell. He grew up in Toronto, but initially studied anthropology and sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. After first year he transferred to OCAD University to study industrial design.

What’s next? Jesse’s met with some start-up incubators and considering his options. Coast won an Umbra Award for industrial design at Grad Ex and he’s entered the ACIDO Industrial Design Thesis Competition happening in June.

 

If you have your own wicked idea for a product or business, consider applying to OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst start-up incubator. We’ll help you take your idea to market. The deadline to submit is May 27.

Imagination Catalyst entrepreneur reinvents laundry time

Yi Jiang and DRUMi
Friday, May 8, 2015 - 2:30pm

The world has discovered a bold new way to do laundry: DRUMi – the invention of OCAD University Industrial Design alumnus and Imagination Catalyst participant Yi Jiang – is an easy-to-use, portable, eco-friendly way to clean clothes. While it won’t be launched until mid-2016, orders are rolling in daily and Jiang is fielding interest from distributors around the world.

Getting noticed

DRUMi’s prototype was unveiled at the Green Living Show this spring, which led to a raft of stories by, for example, NOW! Magazine, Breakfast Television, the Journal de Montréal, Digital Trends, The Huffington Post and Gizmodo.

“The online stories really got YiREGO noticed,” Jiang says. By May 8, the company’s YouTube video has had over a million hits, while its Facebook page has garnered over 100,000 likes and 3,500 people have signed on to receive news updates.

The Imagination Catalyst impact

“Involvement in the Imagination Catalyst has driven us forward in refining DRUMi’s design, creating a business plan and sorting out manufacturing,” Jiang says. “The monthly roundtable meetings with fellow I-Cats and mentors are especially valuable.” Jiang also credits the advice of his mentor, Paul Rowan (Vice President of Inspiration and founding partner of Umbra), as well as Rowan’s generosity in opening doors to major players in the household design world.

Before they take DRUMi to market, Jiang and his team will focus on making several structural refinements. They also expect to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in the fall.

From student to entrepreneur

DRUMi  was Jiang’s fourth-year thesis project, which he exhibited at OCAD U’s 2013 Graduate Exhibition. That same year, Jiang won the Industrial Design Association’s Best Customer Experience Award and joined OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst.

Imagination Catalyst entrepreneur expands her empathy-education business

Ilana Ben-Ari
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 4:00am

It’s been almost a year since Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys took first place in OCAD University’s 2014 Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition. World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15 to 21) seems like a great time to check in and see what’s been happening since then.

The Empathy Toy

Twenty One Toys’ signature product is the Empathy Toy. Originating from Ben-Ari’s industrial design thesis project at Carleton University, the toy comprises wooden puzzle pieces with a variety of textures, shapes and colours. One or more players take a pre-made pattern and they must explain it to one or more other players – who have a set of identical, but loose, pieces – so that they can assemble the very same pattern.

But here’s the rub: all the puzzle-players wear blindfolds! The blindfolds come off when the assemblers think they have solved the puzzle. At that point, everyone – including silent observers – discusses what happened during the game. As Ben-Ari (Twenty One Toys’ founder and lead designer) notes, “that’s often the most instructive part of the exercise.”

Expanding reach

Since joining the Imagination Catalyst’s one-year Take It to Market incubator program, the Empathy Toy has gained serious traction. The first 1,000 units sold out in December 2014, and a second batch of 1,000 arrived from the factory in April 2015. This swift spread – the toy is in use in more than 800 schools worldwide – has been boosted by the many positive reports in the press, including in The Guardian, Fast Company and Time.

Imaginative mentors

“One of the most positive aspects of the Imagination Catalyst is the contact it gives me with leading entrepreneurs,” says Ben-Ari. “These inspiring people share their experience with me and give me great advice.” In particular, Ben-Ari points to the influence of Doreen Dotto and Lahav Gil. The president of uKloo Kids, Dotto has given Ben-Ari direction on wholesale pricing, certification and legal issues, working with distributors and pricing models. For his part, Gil, the CEO of the Kangaroo Group and co-founder of Bauhaus Tech Ventures, shared his knowledge of mass production, partnerships and distribution models.

“These generous entrepreneurs have been available to jump on the phone and give me advice on the challenges they faced when they were growing,” Ben-Ari says. “It’s been incredibly valuable as we face the hurdles associated with the expanding demand for our toys.”

The next horizon

When Ben-Ari began, she conceived of the Empathy Toy as something that would be used largely by elementary-school students. She and her team soon discovered, however, that older people enjoyed and learned from it. As a result, the firm is about to launch the Empathy Toy for corporate use as well as training and professional development workshops for employee groups.

 

Photograph of Ilana Ben-Ari by Laynna Meyler

Design Competition Challenges Students: If I was Mayor…?

Team 15's #bluechair Project
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - 5:00am

OCAD University’s annual Design Competition, held last week, challenged students to respond to the question, “If you were the Mayor of Toronto, how would you design an intervention that renews our sense of city identity and civic purpose?”

Launched on a Friday afternoon, student teams had four days to design a concept responding to the question and present it in an exhibition in OCAD U’s Great Hall. The competition jury members were Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission and former Mayor of Toronto, Max Beck, President and CEO, Easter Seals Canada, Beth Alber, metalsmith and OCAD U Professor Emerita, Matt Di Paola, Managing Director, Digital Innovation, Sid Lee, OCAD U alumnus Matthew Del Degan, Founder and President, Sandbox Society Inc. and Faculty of Design Associate Dean Colleen Reid.

Team 15 won the first place price of $2,000 for their #bluechairs Project, a concept to reunite isolated Torontonians through social interaction. The campaign makes use of social media and physical installations of chairs as a means to stimulate conversations. Team 15 members are Industrial Design students Kristin Thomson, Adam Badzynski, Benjamin Laflamme and Houston Keil-Vine.

Team 14 received a second prize of $1,000 for Toronto’s People’s District, a concept for a district in the city that puts people first by permanently converting a streetscape in Toronto to a pedestrian only neighbourhood. Team 14 members are Environmental Design student Lambert St-Cyr and Industrial Design student Brandon Skarpa.

The Student Choice Award prize of $500 was a three-way tie, with Team 14, Team 15 and Team 10 sharing the honour. Team 10’s project is a concept for a theatrical production combining music and sport called #TOLO, Toronto Only Lives Once: On Ice: A Musical Experience. #TOLO tells the story of a local teen (played by Drake) whose destiny is to use song and dance to power the Toronto Maple Leafs to victory. Team 10 members are Industrial Design students Nathan Asis, Tom Debicki, Anne Kwon and Oscar Kwong and Graphic Design student Prairie Koo.

Team 18 won Honourable Mention for their concept Unfold TO, a postcard exchange project that allows Torontonians to share their experiences with other regional communities. Team 18 members are Industrial Design students Rachel Jui Yun Ma and Nadia Hy, and Environmental Design students Yoon Hee Kim and Ye Seul Kim.

Material in the Extreme Talk

Image of poster with red, blue and purple boxes
Thursday, November 13, 2014 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Instructor Richard Garvin will be holding a talk in Room 530 the Material Innovation Centre.

His talk will focus on Material in the Extreme, emerging use of materials and new smart textiles.

Richard Garvin is an industrial designer and retail subject matter expert. He is an instructor within the Industrial Design department at OCAD U. He has designed for retailers around the globe and has a specialized interest in product innovation, commercial technologies and emerging trends.

Venue & Address: 
100 McCaul St. Room 530 -- Material Innovation Centre
Cost: 
Free

Ontario Centres of Excellence highlight Revelo’s success

Photo of Henry Chong with his E-bike
Monday, October 27, 2014 - 7:00pm

Henry Chong and his startup company Revelo Electric are featured in the annual report put out by the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Chong’s concept for the bike came from his undergraduate Industrial Design thesis project and was further developed at the Imagination Catalyst, OCAD U’s entrepreneurship incubator.

Chong's current model, the LE-1 e-bike, is a chainless, street-legal e-bike that folds easily. The bike can travel 30 kilometres with a single charge of its lithium battery. The Ontario Centres of Excellence invested $143,000 in Chong’s business, which he hopes to grow to 20 employees in the next two years.

Photo: Christina Gapic

Material over Matter

Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 4:00pm

OCADU Instructor: Mark Tholen will give a professional talk

Mark Tholen is a Toronto architect, industrial designer and assistant professor at OCAD U. He has designed buildings in Germany, the US and Canada. In his industrial design found objects and the beauty of natural materials as well as the process of making play a major role in his work.

Venue & Address: 
Room 530 100 McCaul St. Toronto, Ontario
Cost: 
Free

JOLT AND OCAD U'S IMAGINATION CATALYST BOOST STUDENT STARTUP

Mike Lovas and Rami Alhamad of PUSH Design Solutions. Image by JOLT.

Mike Lovas, an entrepreneurial fourth-year Industrial Design student at OCAD U is now the Chief Design Officer at PUSH Design Solutions, a startup that he co-founded thanks to seed capital and support from both the JOLT technology accelerator and OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst.

Lovas (whom you may also recognize as a research assistant in the Mobile Experience Lab and a research coordinator in the Sustainability Office), teamed up with two University of Waterloo mechatronics engineer graduates, Rami Alhamad and Suresh Joshi, last year to work on an idea.

They made rapid progress, and now PUSH, in its current iteration, is an app-enabled fitness device for analyzing, managing and tracking weight training and workout performance. It can attach to an athlete’s wrist or common weight training equipment, and it incorporates smart monitoring and intelligent design so anyone, from a pro athlete to a casual fitness lover can use it.

JOLT, a technology accelerator dedicated to high-growth web and mobile companies, invested $30,000 in seed capital for Lovas’s company, in exchange for six per cent equity. The JOLT program also provides product development support, workshops, business mentorship and workspace in Toronto’s bustling MaRS Commons, home to many other digital entrepreneurs and research initiatives.

OCAD U’s Imagination Catalyst, which helps students take ideas out of the classroom and into the market, provided another infusion of seed capital, along with outreach support, and has also offered workspace.

Lovas and the PUSH team took their app to Launch Festival in San Francisco in March where they met with Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms. They’re now working on a beta version for user testing with weight trainers and varsity teams at the University of Toronto.

“This is an exciting, fast moving thing,” says Lovas. “It’s ambitious because we’re combining product design with hardware, mobile technology, iOS development and a web portal with deep analytics, so there are a lot of moving parts. We’re just going to keep moving ahead.”
 

 

MEET GRAD EX 2013 MEDAL WINNER, JENN SEOYOUNG KIM (INDUSTRIAL DESIGN)

Jenn Seoyoung Kim at Grad Ex 2013. Photo by Christina Gapic.
Part of Jenn Seoyong Kim's project, Plant Haiti Campaign. Image by Jenn Seoyoung Kim.

Jenn Seoyoung Kim’s medal award-winning project, Plant Haiti Campaign, is designed to bring much-needed trees to communities in Haiti. Here’s how she describes it:

Haiti, which was once covered in lush green forests, has now decayed into a barren wasteland. An enormous amount of trees were cut down constantly in a matter of decades to produce lumber for mainly industrial use, including charcoal as a domestic cooking fuel. The value of greenery seemed to be forgotten as Haiti was undergoing a vicious cycle, where trees were being planted only to be cut down. Plant Haiti Campaign recalls the potential beauty of Haiti by supporting Haitian communities to grow and maintain Moringa Trees. The miraculous nutritional values of this tree can easily overturn the course of Haiti’s future. When products within the Miracle Moringa Collection, inspired by the artisans of Haiti, are purchased, part of the revenue goes to NGOs in Haiti to help reforest the nation as well as educate Haitians about the importance of trees.

What inspired you and motivated you to do this project?

Last summer, I went to Haiti for two weeks on a mission trip from church and realized how critical living conditions are there. The earthquake in 2010 brought too much sorrow and despair that still lingers in Haitians’ minds and lifestyles. I wanted to provide a long-term solution that could help Haiti to get out of this environmental crisis and eventually stand up on its own.

What part of the process of creating this project did you learn the most from?

I learned the most from researching through various methods and applying those techniques to better enhance my ideas. Especially, our class schedule included weekly presentations that helped me to keep track of my directions. 

What part of the process of creating this project are you the most proud of?

I’m proud of the fact that my project is based on long-term considerations and a result of my own experience. By addressing a real problem for the most needed,Plant Haiti Campaign connects many aspects all together to harmonize and recreate the value of greenery.

How did you react to the news that you won a medal for your work? 

I wasn’t expecting a call from OCAD U, so my heart stopped for a second when I heard the word “congratulations.” I cried for three hours. Every time I told my family and friends about the result, I couldn’t stop crying (happy tears).

What’s your fondest memory from your studies at OCAD U, and what will you miss the most?

I miss the days I spent in woodshop making furniture and other projects with fellow students. Technicians and monitors were friendly to help out and overall I loved its warm atmosphere.

What are you planning to do next? 

My next step is to further enhance my skills and build more experience as a designer. 

Find out more about Jenn Seoyoung Kim:

LinkedIn Profile

Pages