Age of invention

18th March 2005 at 00:00
Ten-year-old Josephine Linton's blueprint of a garden gnome with its inbuilt fox alarm made some other inventions at a graduate design showcase look a tad tame.

The Concept Product Awards at the Ideal Home Show, Earls Court, London, have been a platform for designers fresh from UK universities for five years.

But this year London's eight to 11-year-olds were invited to take part to counter the lack of attention design gets in primary schools. They were asked to submit designs that would make life better outside school.

Karoline Newman, curator and co-ordinator of Concept Products Awards, decided the primary competition should be design-focused after talks with the National Society for Education in Art and Design.

"They said it would be better if we ran a design rather than art-led competition because that is where the attention needs to be focused.

Children are not getting opportunities to look at design and technology at eight." Josephine, from Henry Cavendish primary, Lambeth, dreamt up the all-purpose garden gnome.

Schoolmate Chloe Platt, nine, came up with the Canny Cabinet - a cupboard kitted out with a toaster, a place to keep butter and a telephone directory.

Chloe's mother, Katy, said: "I don't know how she thought of it, but it contains all the things you need if you are on the phone and you are hungry."

The 101 short-listed drawings are displayed alongside finished designs by graduates such as the bath buoy - which eliminates the danger of novels getting soggy in the bath; the DeLigh Table - which illuminates anything placed on it; and the Peg Light - an interactive light board for children.

Luke Genower, 23, who gained a first from Bournemouth university for his bath buoy, said: "When I was little I was called the mad inventor.

"I used to design contraptions to make breakfast and feed the dog at the same time. There are not enough opportunities for that age group to design things like that."

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