Where form meets function

99U is a conference for creatives looking for insight on how push their ideas from concept to reality or as they put it,  “shift the focus from idea generation to idea execution.” Invited guest speakers at 99U bring a wide array of disciplines to the stage and share their insight on everything from problem solving, brainstorming, ideation, to delivering their “dream ideas” as fully thought-out products and services.

Photography: Aaron Tang/Flickr

As a guest of 99U, we come to hear stories and gain insight on how to bring out the best in Selectism and Highsnobiety.  We come to hear the best minds in various fields discuss their problem solving techniques, best practices and their stories of growth. We come to hear how ideas grow and change with time, how other media groups do their thing.

Most importantly, we come to 99U for inspiration on how to make Selectism and Highsnobiety better products for you, our readers.

Folks like Ben Shaffer, studio head of Nike’s Innovation Kitchen, spoke on product incubation inside the big footwear maker – a topic we find incredibly exciting and on point with our readers.

But 99U speaker, Irish-born inventor, Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, who shared with us how her incredible invention, Sugru, showed a passion that was undeniable. As one of the most talked about DIY, self-repair, and  modification products on the  market, Sugru is a story of not giving up on your goal and doing everything in your power to get there.

Sugru can be best described as a Playdough like material. A silicone material that can be shaped to form and hardens (just slightly) with time, Sugru is a universal repair product in the vein of duct tape but with countless new applications. Sugru was named one of the Top 50 Inventions of 2010 by TIME. They couldn’t be more on point.

While studying at the Royal College of Art in London in 2003, inventor, Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh decided to work on a project that put focus on fixing and improving old products without the need to buy new. In some way, Ni Dhulchaointigh, was pushing against the disposable economies of the modern day. Could a product once considered “finished” after breaking be saved? She clearly believed so and had an idea of what it may be.

Her process in developing Sugru started by bringing together a team of material scientists to help her learn what she was up against. With knowledge shared from this team, Ni Dhulchaointigh spent the next six years formulating the silicone rubber that became Sugru. Change after change, she finally developed the Playdough-like silicone that would work

But R&D story of countless iterations tell only half the tale in the development of this product. How Sugru was applied to real-world problems tell the true value of her idea.

Her 99U talk spoke on the years building up to the first production deliverables as well as how the public made sugru their own. The value of delivering and the very best customer service experience by Ni Dhulchaointigh’s team has lead to astonishing stories of success by sugru and the folks using it.

The customer accolades are endless: folks with arthritis modifying the laundry machine dial, to making flat wall plugs easier to unplug, Sugru is an innovation that is truly changing lives and making ordinary objects we take for granted better for those with disabilities.

Ni Dhulchaointigh’s shared these stories at 99U. You can find more on Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh and Sugru here.

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