We caught up with Media Design School Alumni Rose Norgrove who won the Red Dot Junior Award: Brand and Communication Design 2021 for her innovative medical device, Dual. We asked her a few burning questions about her project and checked in with what she’s doing now.
What was the initial brief for the project where you created Dual?
The brief was completely open. I had always rejected the idea of doing a project on Diabetes because, as a type 1 diabetic myself, I was unsure about having to think about this subject any more than I already have to. It was a 16-week assignment and for the first eight weeks I focussed on Typography, but then we went into level 4 lockdown and I started to notice all of the pain points involved in Diabetes management with the devices funded in NZ. I had put a lot of these issues down to time and me being too busy to focus on it, but with lockdown, I could in theory do everything perfectly, and yet I struggled with the devices just as much. I decided to change my project completely and spend the next eight weeks on Dual. I wanted to design a device that I would genuinely love to have myself, and I wanted to make it realistically affordable, which is one of the reasons I decided to design a detached device. One of the most frustrating things about using the devices NZ has funded is knowing there are way better options out there, but they’ll cost you an arm and a leg.
Where did the name Dual come from?
I wanted simplicity to be a key theme throughout the project, in terms of function and appearance. Since Dual combines two key steps in Diabetes management: blood glucose reading and insulin delivery, I decided to name it Dual.
How did you land on the shape of the device, what considerations did you need to keep in mind?
Ultimately I wanted to consider the internal components and ensure the device was realistic. I looked at diagrams of insulin pumps to gauge what components would be needed inside of the device and how they needed to be connected, and I looked at insulin pens to gauge how long the device needed to be and how the insulin cartridge would be accessed. The all-in-one blood glucose cartridge at the base of the device was inspired by new technologies which allow for lancing and collection in one motion. The device is rounded so as to be easy to hold whilst injecting, and the countdown on the screen is rotated so you can read it clearly while the insulin is delivering. The shape I landed on was about the twentieth iteration and was practically the only shape it could be whilst containing all of the needed parts and being as compact as possible.
What was the most difficult part of the project?
The most difficult part was also, in a way, the easiest part. Focussing on my own experiences over more than a decade and analysing the pain points was mentally draining, but it was great to have something productive to channel that into. Usually thinking about my Diabetes management is a chore, but having this project that I could refine and perfect really helped me work through it. I think it is really important for people with disabilities to be involved in the process of designing for that group, and there were insights I applied to the project I would never have found through secondary sources.
The modelling and motion videos for Dual are so eye-catching and captivating – can you give us some more insight into these? Was it a part of the brief?
Thank you! I used Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D to bring this project to life. There wasn’t a requirement to use motion or 3D graphics, but since we were in Level 4 lockdown I couldn’t make real prototypes so I decided to give it a crack. I had some experience with motion design, from my first year at MDS, and none whatsoever with 3D software, so it was a bit of a struggle. Conveniently, I had designed a fairly minimalist device and brand identity, so that made animating it easier.
Are you looking at taking Dual to market?
If so, how is that going and could you give us some insight into the process? I wish! I wouldn’t even know where to begin with getting a medical device to market, but if it ever happens I’ll be my own first buyer.
We heard that you’re now working at Fuman – how is that going? How did you get the job?
I’m loving it. Couldn’t be more stoked with my team and the work we get to do. Jon Chapman-Smith came into my uni, Media Design School, to talk to us about the industry. The work he showed us from Fuman was insane, so I sent him an email asking to see the studio. I chucked a cheeky link to my portfolio in there, and a few days later I was on as an intern. Overall, I think I was just really lucky with timing and everything, having just finished making my portfolio. I’m very grateful to my lecturer, Tammie Leong, for setting up the talk and giving students at MDS those kinds of opportunities. And of course, I am so unbelievably grateful to Jon & Grace Chapman-Smith for having me join the team – we get to work with incredible clients and do really creative projects so I honestly couldn’t be happier.
Do you have any advice for soon-to-be or recent graduates?
I think your portfolio is key, and you need to reach out to studios you like. Luckily, at Media Design School we had a term to focus on our portfolios so I designed and coded my own web portfolio. You can definitely tell it wasn’t coded by a software engineer, but it does the job and got me a shot with Fuman, so I think it’s best to shoot your shot even if there’s still room for improvement.
Where can we see more of your work?