This year, through our Design By Nature competition, we challenged students across the UK to come up with new ways to connect people with nature. Read on to see their winning ideas and what inspires them.

Meet Joshua

Joshua's design responded to the brief to help inner-city communities to make more sustainable choices in their day-to-day lives and become advocates for protecting the environment. 

Joshua is currently studying a part time Master’s at Loughborough University whilst working as a Usability Designer for Philips in the Netherlands.

What’s your favourite piece of everyday design?

“A nice piece of design that is simple and clever, that I use every day, is actually the app Shazam. It's got one job, and it meets the mark. Providing a solution to a problem that people wouldn’t even think about anymore.”

Who or what inspires you?

“What I find really enjoyable involves understanding people and human behaviour. My role is a mixture of user experience and ergonomics and its incredibly useful to learn about human behaviour from people like Jordan Peterson and Dale Carnegie.”

If you had a magic wand – how would take your idea forward/who would you pitch it to?

"What I liked about my idea was that it was simple and perhaps doesn’t require a magic wand to take forward. It’s a simple visualisation to show people the impact their eating habits have on the planet. If I developed it further, it would be nice to bring in a timeline to the feedback it provides users. Perhaps show how the future would look if we carry on eating so much and expecting more form the planet. The future is what needs to be visualised. Its so hard to get a grip of the climate change issue, let alone all the systemic issues that fuel it."

Meet Lilymae

Lilymae's design responded to the brief to inspire 18-25 year olds to explore and spend time in their local green spaces and engage with nature in their everyday lives.

Lilymae is currently finishing her Master’s in UX Design at Loughborough University.

What’s your favourite piece of everyday design?

“I think re-usable make-up remover pads are massively underrated. They’re such a simple idea but can save you a lot of money in the long run. They feel a lot nicer on your skin than the disposable kind, and are environmentally friendly too (triple win)!”

Who or what inspires you?

“I mostly look up to designers who are very relatable and personal, such as Maddy Beard and Femke van Schoonoven. A lot of my motivation comes from learning more about their experiences navigating the industry and finding their feet in design.”

If you had a magic wand – how would take your idea forward/who would you pitch it to?

"If I had a magic wand, I'd want to get the idea out in the world and just see people enjoying it! Without the magic wand it definitely would need a lot more development and refining, but I think it would be really interesting to see how people actually respond to the concept on a wider scale, and whether it's something that could genuinely change people's perceptions of being in nature. I'd love to pitch the idea to Steven Bartlett, partly because I just love his podcasts, but also because I think he has a really interesting and raw perspective on entrepreneurship, and it would be cool to hear his thoughts on the idea - both good and bad!"

Meet Marcus, Luke and Elvis

Marcus, Luke and Elvis's design responded to the brief to create an affordable practical way of bringing the benefits of nature into the homes of inner-city communities. 

Marcus, Luke and Elvis are graduating in 2021 from Imperial College London.

What’s your favourite piece of everyday design?

“My current favourite piece of everyday design is smart home energy meters. I truly think that the key towards a more sustainable future is through increasing the average users awareness of their personal energy data. Because of this awareness, we will hopefully switch from our current state of passive consumption, to one where (because of the data) we are mindful of the energy we use. Smart meters are just the first way to lead a data-drive sustainable life, and hopefully not the last!”

Who or what inspires you?

“I love the work being done by the Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T) collective. They pair artists and engineers to innovate more humanising technology for the future. The work produced from the melting of minds of such different disciplines yields some really stunning results – and is something I think should be much more widely adopted.”

If you had a magic wand – how would take your idea forward/who would you pitch it to?

First and foremost, anyone who might buy it at the Kickstarter launch! We need as many people excited about the concept as possible if we're going to be successful. After that we'd be very interested in pitching to retailers, or other companies who might be interested in selling the Noku Canvas in their stores.

Sign up to the Noku Canvas pre-order mailing list here: www.shirinoku.com

Check out the other shortlisted Design By Nature entries and the up-and-coming designers behind the ideas:

DESIGNBYNATURE.ORG.UK