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Design-driven innovation behind next-generation condoms

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An international competition is calling for packaging and branding ideas for future condoms.

The competition has been created to encourage designers to share their ideas on innovative and culturally appropriate ways to communicate safe sex in South-East Asia and Africa.

With a $3500 cash prize on offer, there are two categories that are open for submissions:

  • Young designers (under 35 years of age)
  • Design students (currently in tertiary education)

The brief asks designers to ‘create a visual around packaging, branding, advertising and promotional material for safe sex’.

The design competition is being run by Swinburne University of Technology as part of the UOW-led Project Geldom, a research initiative that is developing a new type of material called a hydrogel for making condoms to improve universal access to reproductive and sexual health, one of the great challenges and human rights issues of the 21st century.

This year more than 27 billion condoms will be sold, but still not enough are being used. It is hoped that the combination of the new material and innovative brand and packaging design will help encourage use of the important contraceptive, particularly in the regions of South-East Asia and Africa.

The hydrogel could potentially be made into thinner, more stable, more durable condoms that are completely bio-degradable. It can also be naturally lubricated and be embedded with medicinal creams and gels, so it could be even safer to use and very, very sensitive.

Swinburne Course Coordinator for Industrial Design, Dr Gianni Renda, said that the judging panel would like to see entries that stand out compared to what’s currently in market.

“We are undertaking research into existing condom packaging and branding and we hope this competition will help further our knowledge,” Dr Renda said.

Swinburne Course Coordinator for Communication Design / Business, Bridgette Engeler Newbury, is looking for a fresh take on branding and packaging, based on local cultural preferences that influence people’s perceptions of condoms.

“There are still parts of the world that are not purchasing and using condoms for many different reasons. It would be great if the packaging and branding tackled this issue,” Ms Engeler Newbury said.

Project leader Dr Robert Gorkin said the design helps inform the materials science in moving beyond purely engineering-driven product development to create insightful and useful products that can be manufactured effectively.

“The Geldom is a platform technology, but technology is only useful if people want to use it,” he said. “This competition provides opportunities for communities worldwide to get their ideas heard and potentially integrated into new designs.”

Project Geldom received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its Grand Challenges Program to develop condoms made from novel materials that people will want to use.

(Source: University of Wollongong)

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Posted On: 21 July, 2015
Modified On: 20 July, 2015


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