Student wins international award for sustainable toy design

A product design student from De Montfort University has scooped an international award for her sustainable toy design.

Elly Skelton designed a durable scooter, called ‘1 Toy for Life’, which is plastic-free and suitable for children from the age of two all the way to age 12. The toy was initially designed for the RSA Student design awards.  The RSA Student Design Awards is a global curriculum and annual competition for higher education students and recent graduates run by the RSA. Each year the Awards challenge emerging designers to tackle a range of design briefs focused on pressing social, environmental and economic issues.

Elly’s design is a result of the ‘Fair Play’ brief set by the RSA, which focuses on creating a sustainable toy. Given the finite resources of the planet and increasing rates of consumption by a growing population, current levels of waste are unsustainable. Just ‘using less’ and recycling is not enough. Designers need to completely rethink the manufacture and life cycle of products and their components, and design them in a way that eliminates waste. Sustainability is becoming a huge issue in todays society and young designers are having to learn how to adapt and develop their work in order to ensure its sustainability.

Elly’s design can be adapted as the user grows, so it can last for their entire childhood. She was inspired to create a scooter by her childhood memories of playing on scooters with her brother. The third year Leicester university student won £2,000 by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce after winning the Student Design award.


Elly from Milton Keynes said: “It’s amazing to have won the award. It is such an honour to be nominated and it was a great experience to go down to London to the RSA headquarters and present my design.” The toy is made from aluminium, which complied with Elly’s design brief.

She said: “I started looking into materials I could use for the circular economy and I thought of aluminium because it is so recyclable, 75% of aluminium ever created is still in use today, which is amazing.

“For both of my projects this year I have wanted to move away from plastics.

Elly aims to use her skills and experience in design to focus on sustainability and implements it in to other projects she’s working on. “My other major project is about eradicating plastic bags and hangers from retail stores. It all feeds into the anti-plastics sentiment.”

The  21-year-old was named as one of three winners in her category.

All the winners have been invited to an award ceremony in London on 27 June.


Copyright: De Montfort University, Leicester


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