Helen Hughes talks industrial design with the BBC

Date 2024-03-04

Helen Hughes, Sustainability Director, Design Bridge and Partners London, shares her insights on BBC Breakfast, discussing how brand-led design and innovation can act as a catalyst to drive change in environmental and social issues, along with our collaborative efforts to utilise our industrial design expertise in addressing glassware-related injuries.

Helen discusses how commercial glassware undergoes a manufacturing process called ‘toughening’, meaning if broken, the glass will shatter into smaller, less harmful pieces. But overtime, this toughening effect wears off and the chances increase of glass breaking into dangerous shards.

Using research conducted by the Royal College of Art, and with an understanding of people and culture, as well as technical understanding of materials and product design, Design Bridge and Partners created a number of different glass prototypes which mitigated the risks of dangerous glass shards occurring. One of these was quickly commercialised after partnering with major glass manufacturer, Arc International.

Helen explains that design was the means to elegantly resolve multiple tensions to land solutions that are better in every way: keeping the liquid chilled for optimum refreshment cues; increasing the durability and ease of use for trade audiences; and importantly – in terms of the social issue that this project was tackling head-on – creating a safer pint glass.

In order for this type of glassware to become the norm, Helen concludes that it’s a case of awareness of these alternative solutions, and promoting their additional benefits. Often the most useful solutions are nuanced, and therefore more realistic to commercialise at scale, in the short-term, and therefore drive impact.

To learn more about our Industrial Design practice, please contact Helen Hughes, Sustainability Director: