Graduate runs away with industrial design prize
Industrial design graduate Nicholas Couch has won the coveted James Dyson Award for his design of a recyclable shoe
designed for barefoot running.
It is the fifth consecutive year in which a Massey University student or graduate from the College of Creative Arts has
won the award. It was presented at a function in Auckland tonight and recognises emerging product designers whose ideas
best demonstrate innovative and inspiring solutions to everyday problems.
Mr Couch, 23, who studied at the School of Design in Albany, says his shoe is designed to help athletes wanting to take
up barefoot running make the transition with footwear that makes the change a more natural process and also reduces
Up to 350 million other sports shoes are bought and thrown away each year, he says.
While changeover shoes like his are available on the market, the ‘Transition’ shoe is the only sustainable
barefoot-style design that features replaceable and recyclable parts.
“Often, these shoes are discarded when only one part – usually the sole – has worn out while the rest of the shoe
remains in good condition but goes to the landfill.”
The Auckland designer says his shoe is made up of only five parts, with each part designed to be discarded only when
required. Made without glue adhesives, the discarded part can be broken down into their original material and can be
While Mr Couch has researched the market place and produced a prototype, the product is at concept stage only. He would
welcome an opportunity to commercialise his design.
Head awards judge, designer David Lovegrove, says Mr Couch’s winning entry should make the sports shoe industry sit up
and take notice.
“The design can be applied to more than a barefoot running style shoe. It challenges the status quo which resonates with
the Dyson philosophy of making products work better.”
Fellow Massey industrial design graduate Stuart Smith, who designed a solar-powered lawn mower, and Victoria University
graduate Cameron Lightfoot, who designed a prosthetic leg which allows amputees to walk easier, were the other
Mr Couch’s prize package includes a trip to the UK worth $3000, courtesy of the British Council New Zealand. He will
also get to visit the London office of product manufacturer Dyson and meet with members of the UK design community.
All three finalists are eligible for the global James Dyson Award to be announced in October.