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2019 DIP winner, Daniella Kaligorsky, on the real life impact of the competition and what she hopes to do in the future, when she finishes university.

Six months on from her win in the 2019 Design Innovation in Plastics (DIP) competition, Dublin product design student, Daniella Kaligorsky has a world of new experience under her belt.

As part of her prize, she enjoyed a visit to Germany to see the competition’s headline industry sponsor, the global plastics company, Covestro, and she has recently completed a two-week work placement with another DIP sponsor, the London-based design agency, PDD. Those experiences have done as much as anything to open her eyes to the wider world of design and plastics and give her the extra confidence to know she can play a relevant part.

“I really value having entered and won this competition: DIP is the only one where all the finalists are given work placements, and the winner and one other get to go to Germany. My university course is four years long but it doesn’t involve any placements so this was my first opportunity to get out there.

“The feedback was another thing I liked about the DIP competition judging – the fact that the judges gave such constructive criticism and they understood you were doing it for a reason, so they wanted to help you. You learn so much more as a result of taking part in this competition, and get an inside glimpse of the world of industry and design – I’m so lucky.”

Daniella, who also collected a national runners up place in the Dyson Awards with the same product, Chekkit, is now deep into her final year and has just a few months left to shape her next idea. It was still under wraps when DIP spoke to her, nevertheless she did however reveal that she is creating another product for the healthcare industry, in which she is keenly interested, only this time for the world of dentistry.

All the students from her course at Technological University Dublin will be unveiling their products at their university’s own design exhibition in June, to round off their year.

Daniella said: “It really is quite conceptual at the moment and I’m at the stage of trying to get the materials right. That’s critical, and in fact it took a while to get the right material for Chekkit, which is a model to help women self-examine for breast cancer. I had to replicate the feel of human skin, which was quite difficult. Now I know so much more about what materials are out there, thanks to my placements.”

In Germany, Daniella was lucky enough to be taken by Covestro, along with another finalist, Christopher Kay, to the world’s biggest plastics exhibition, K Fair, held once every three years, in Dusseldorf.

Covestro stand at K Fair

The vastness of the exhibition and the specialist machinery on view was a real eye-opener, so her voyage around the cavernous halls gave her a whole new insight on how materials can be used and shaped by different equipment.

“I wasn’t sure what Covestro was about when I got there, but I could see they had one of the biggest stands and there was so much there, which explained everything. It was really interesting to see how they are continually trying to innovate, and to see the importance of partnerships in industry. It was a great opportunity to find out more about materials and how they are applied in real life. We had a look at their concept car and that was a great example of the catalogue of different materials which are used to create it.

“At PDD it helped me to see the relevance of what I’ve been learning at university – only there was so much more to learn. There is even more out there which is so different to what I’ve learned, and obviously you find out how to apply it in the real world. It’s important to see that in the real world, the client is the end goal. There is great emphasis on interviewing lots of people about products – not just one or two - observing their reaction, rather than putting words into their mouths, and working out from that how to make a product intuitive so they can use it more easily.

“You benefit from constructive criticism and working in a team and you start not to fear making mistakes. At university you sometimes create boundaries, but in the real world – as Covestro says - you’re pushing boundaries all the time.

Daniella is now galloping towards the end of her four-year course at Technological University Dublin, and looking forward to what lies beyond.

“I’ve seen how what I’ve learned is applied in real life and I see the passion of people who really love what they do. I’m interested in the medical side, but I’m also really keen on the industrial side of design. I’d love to get a position in a large company or consultancy. I’m a logical thinker and I like function, so I’d like to be able to design products for real. My taster of the world of work has made me really impatient to get out there!”