New Designers is an annual graduate design show – taking place during July in London – where 3000 emerging designers from a variety of UK colleges and universities showcase their final-year projects to the public and prospective employers. Each year a number of awards are handed out and this year the main ‘New Designer of the Year Award’ went to Henry Franks of Northumbria University for his ‘dyslexic objects’.
“Henry reimagines everyday objects with the various attributes of dyslexia. He joyfully combines utility with human behaviour, resulting in a clever, well-rounded collection, brimming with unique ideas,” commented the judges.
Franks, inspired by his own dyslexic condition, set out to design a range of objects that utilise the characteristics of dyslexia to provide emotionally engaging alternatives to contemporary products.
“The aim was to improve a selection of everyday objects through the addition of dyslexia, encouraging the user to re-engage with seemingly inanimate objects,” he explains.
For example, with ‘Muglexia’ he has completely turned the concept of a mug on its head – quite literally. Just as inversion and flipping of letters and words is common when reading for dyslexics, Franks has designed an inverted mug. He claims that by doing this the mug is more balanced in the hand because the handle position (also upside down) is lower down, it is more stable so less likely to be knocked over and the inverted shape also keeps the drink inside hotter for longer.
Another quirky product in the range is the ‘Confused Coat Hangers’, which have a double hooked head, meaning that the hanger doesn’t have to be turned around when hanging clothes on a rail. “Chronic distraction is a symptom dyslexics have to battle with daily and they often don’t pay attention to certain things, or they have a short attention span. This product displays aspects of reading issues such as mirroring or flipping,” explains Franks.
Franks’ award does not only include a cash prize but also support that will enable him to take his products further, including advice from intellectual property lawyers, accounting and taxation advice, as well as a marketing and PR workshop.
“This opportunity is a foot in the door to a national audience with the possibility of turning my passion into a profitable career,” says Franks. “The award endorses my work and the time I have put into creating it.”
His Muglexia mugs have already been put into production and will be available to buy soon.