Forward-looking designer wins bpma Award

Student designer Asher Erskine highlights the project that won him the 2015 bpma Design Innovation Award

I’m currently in my second year studying Product Design at Nottingham Trent University, working on a range of exciting live briefs with various companies.  Last year, I got my first insight into the process, when we were tasked to design the promotional product of the future as part of the bpma Design Innovation Award. 

Through hours of sketching and prototyping, I designed a pair of flat-pack folding binoculars. The assembly and the wide range of branding opportunities saw the design awarded first place at the 2015 competition.

The inspiration came from the realisation that paper is one of the most successful and versatile materials used by companies and brands to promote themselves. This, coupled with the desire to design something pocket-sized, led to creation of a fun, easy-to-use pair of folding binoculars.

Called the OwlSee, the binoculars are manufactured using Yupo, a synthetic paper that is as easy to print and recycle as normal paper, but is tear-proof and waterproof, making it very long lasting and durable. Thanks to the added bonus of folding completely flat, the OwlSee can be branded with company logos and colours, and distributed as easily as a flyer or business card.

The body of the product is designed to replace paper promotional material, such as maps and posters. With a QR code on the sleeve, the product can also replace entry tickets. For example, imagine walking into London Zoo, and being handed an OwlSee that replaces the map and ticket. This can be folded open in seconds and used to have a closer look at all of the animals and activities. The versatility of the product enables it to be used for a huge range of events and experiences.

The competition was held at the Museum of Brands in London, a truly exciting place for anyone with an interest in design to spend a day. Speaking to the judges was an opportunity to get across all of the hard work that had gone into the project, and explain the potential of the product in a way that presentation boards couldn’t do alone.

It was a wonderful chance to meet and share thoughts with a group of industry professionals, working in a fi eld that motivates me to design and inspires innovation. It was great to have a handful of other students from NTU with me, representing the university and our course.

With Design Week showing an interest in the competition and judging, it was a privilege to see my work featured on the website.

  • More of Asher’s work can be seen online at
  • Runner-up was Nathan Hulman also from Nottingham Trent with the Meshi business card, which works on the traditional oriental way of sharing business cards. Second runner-up was Isobel Scott with “Well-Ease”, a silicon case shaped like a pair of wellies for sun cream and hand sanitiser, targeting the festival market.
  • The bpma Student Design Competition is sponsored by Corporate Creations, Inner Workings, Marketing Week Live, and Matrix APA, and supported by Design Week magazine. Designs will be seen at the new bpma show in September and at Marketing Week Live in April.

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