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GCSE Design student meets CEO of McLaren

One of our 4th Form GCSE Design Students had the great opportunity to visit Goodwood Festival of Speed recently. He was fortunate to see Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren and gifted one of his ‘Prop-It’ phone holders.

Theo came in to the DESIGN LAB with a number of ‘waste materials’. Amongst his collection was a set of surplus number plates. As part of our new ‘Something from Nothing’ project he then began establishing a ‘need’. As product designer our aim is to make others’ live better one product at time. This is something Theo has already begun to understand as he demonstrates in his own words:

“The idea for the Prop-It came about during a family brainstorming conversation one Sunday afternoon at home. I'd been given a brief for a DT project which was to find an item or product that was currently not being recycled and to find a second life for it. I came to realise that car number plates fitted this criteria perfectly. There were though a few problems along the way. The biggest problem was getting hold of number plates. The DVLA doesn't allow the recycling of this material due to car theft, which considering the amount of plastic this creates, is a great waste. I was rather lucky to know of a few people who had private number plates on their cars and they had kept the original plates tucked away in their garages or under the stairs.

I originally started off with a rather large Prop-It aimed at iPads but I came to realise that my limited access to this valuable resource was going to run dry very soon if I kept to this size. It was my DT teacher who encouraged me to make it as small as I possibly could, not only allowing it to work for a phone but it would also allow me to make more Prop-Its out of one number plate.

As the design evolved into the final stages I added a key ring holder which allows it to be portable, hence solving my original portable propping requirement.”

While we knew that Theo had produced a product that met a real need and addressed some of the plastic waste that is produced globally, we hadn't anticipated Mike Flewitt’s interaction with the Prop-It, a small gift with a big response as he spent the whole day using it and went about explaining its’ story to people when they asked. He has even taken the time to email and respond to Theo’s product:

“I was really taken with Theo’s Prop-It; I really liked the whole thinking around it. The Prop-It is instantly appealing and useful and without thinking I was using it during the day to hold my phone, and you can see in the photo attached it is now on my desk.

Apart from the instant appeal, the reuse of scrap material is so relevant to current thinking and demonstrates an awareness and sense of responsibility that really impresses. On both the rational and emotional level this product works, the instant appeal on an emotional level, and then the rational when you think about the design of the product.

If Theo continues in this vein you have another Jony Ive or Mark Newson on your hands.”

To date, Theo has made over £200 from sales of the Prop-It, all of which will be donated to the schools chosen charities this year.

Nick Mills. Head of Design Technology, says “The DESIGN LAB ORATORY aims to be a sanctuary from the pressures of academic life. We aim to allow the mind to explore freely, to think (without judgement of others) outside the box and, most of all, to be open-minded. It is our hope that this is another step in a young, budding designers' life.”