A new approach to use-by-date labelling for food has earned three Kingston University students a nationally-recognised RSA Design Directions award.
Third year Kingston graphic design students Françoise D’offay-Smith, Kirsten Elliott and Alice Boardman have reinvigorated the existing system of use-by-dates by creating a petal-shaped ‘touch-by-date’ label able to give an accurate reading of the life span of dairy, meat and fish products. As the product deteriorates and gases are given off by the food the petals start to change colour and become raised to touch. The design won the award for being accessible to all users especially those with disabilities.
Kirsten hopes the team will now be able to convince a major retailer to adopt the concept. “It is not always clear when a product is safe to eat as some food goes off before or after the stated use-by-date on the packaging,” she said. The invention would be particularly beneficial for the 10 per cent of Britain’s population who are visually impaired, she added. “We believe our idea will help visually people who have problems with their vision easily identify whether their food is still safe to eat.”
Senior Lecturer Mike Bond said the award had given the students valuable experience working within a competitive creative environment. "The RSA award is a great example of how our students can apply the skills they learn on the graphic design course to everyday scenarios,” he said. “Their solution to a common problem we all face is very simple and so easy to use that I am sure they will have no trouble attracting investment. Having such prestigious recognition as an RSA award on their curriculum vitae will also stand them in very good stead when they start to apply for jobs."
The Kingston students received £5,000 for their success in the RSA Inclusive Worlds award category. The prize was made up of £2,000 from the Helen Hamlyn Research Award and £3,000 from Mercers Company Award.
RSA Design Directions, run by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, encourages emerging young designers to engage with the broader social and environmental context in which they work. This year more than 1,600 students entered 16 categories which included design for debate; natural disaster relief; e-designing states of mind; horizon scanning; design for patient safety; 24 hour living; postage stamps; sustainable packaging and fashion interiors. Past winners include Jonathan Ive, designer of the iPod and fashion designers Betty Jackson and Marcus Lupfer.