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Kim Hoffman, Industrial Design Grad, Named a Finalist for the James Dyson Award

Academy of Art University Industrial Design grad Kim Hoffman has been named a finalist for the James Dyson Award for her innovative survival design. Named for celebrated industrial designer James Dyson, originator of the Dyson vacuum, the award recognizes outstanding work in design by students and recent graduates.

Kim Hoffman –
Designer of the Seakettle

The project, entitled the Seakettle, is a fresh and thoughtful redesign of life rafts for ocean and sea vessels. Originally conceived for a studio class with instructor Pieter Schouten at Academy of Art University, the Seakettle was inspired by a project to design a product for a survival situation.

Knowing the most serious danger on a life raft is dehydration, Kim set out to solve that problem. The Seakettle uses the basic technology of the Watercone, a product that harnesses condensation to purify water, to produce up to three liters of drinkable water a day.

The Seakettle also integrates new features for many other aspects of the life raft. In her research, Kim watched demonstration videos of people getting into life rafts. Though many of the demonstrations were in swimming pools with no waves, many people struggled to climb into rafts. As a result, the Seakettle incorporates a step to facilitate entry, which also serves to stabilize the raft.

Image of the Seakettle

Kim tackled other safety aspects as well. Her design adds four doors, instead of one. This allows for easier access into the raft and better ventilation. “One other detail I added for the floor of the raft was nanogel, which is a type of aerogel, which is an insulating material that is very, very light,” said Kim.

While at Academy of Art University, Kim designed many other innovative products. Her ideas range from a compact, collapsible conference room to a training weight for tennis conditioning. Throughout her work, there is a thorough focus on both form and function.

In addition to being named a finalist in the James Dyson Award, Kim was asked to participate in a panel discussion about the state of design. She was flown to New York, where she spoke with other designers about what it means to be a young designer and the design challenges of the future, including the need to provide clean water.

Seakettle Features

Since graduating from Academy of Art University, Kim has worked on freelance projects with design companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes the school prepared her well for the design world and credits the professional training she gained to her instructors, among them Schouten. “They brought their real-world experience to school and tried to really show us what would be expected of us,” she said.

Update: Kim’s design, the Seakettle, won an international runner-up award. As part of her prize, Kim will have the opportunity to visit to the Dyson research and development centers in either the UK or Malaysia. Academy of Art University congratulates Kim on her outstanding achievement.

"I am very grateful for the Dyson Award and award competitions like this that showcase young designers who are trying everything they can to be noticed and to get their start in the profession," said Kim. "It has allowed me to gain the recognition that I needed for my work to be noticed, which eventually resulted in two amazing job offers."



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