Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Design Students on a Roll with Pashley Cycles

Pashley Guv'nor
Retro 1930's pathway racing cycle

Students on the MA Product Design course at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, Birmingham City University, were asked by Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Pashley Cycles  to work on new accessories concepts for the Pashley Guv’nor. 

Pashley Cycles is England's longest established bicycle manufacturer, having been founded in 1926 in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Its dedicated team design and hand-build a unique range of specialist bicycles, tricycles and work bikes.

London's Annual 'Tweed Run'
a chance to indulge in cycling and style at the same time

One of Pashley's most notable design classics, the Guv'nor, a retro 1930's pathway racing cycle, is favoured by many as 'the bike of choice' for the classic Tweed Run - an annual cycle through London and a chance for the lovers of bicycles and style to indulge both their passions at once!

MA Product Design Course Director, Graham Powell
pictured with Nicolette Lowe, takes part in the London Tweed Run 2010

Course Director, Graham Powell, split the students into six groups with each asked to consider specific products – either a water bottle, reflector, repair kit, mudguard, bell or a pump.
To ensure that students fully understood their chosen category they were asked to research them from an historical perspective and analyse them through observational drawing. 
Concept Drawings for Pashley Guv'nor Thermos Flask Accessory by Alexia Delas
Pashley Guv'nor with Retro-styled Thermos Flask concept
designed by Alexia Delas

Observational Drawings for the Pashley Guv'nor Bicycle Bell Accessory
Each student proposed four simple and affordable adaptations of an existing product, based upon aesthetics, interactions, cost and an alternative or new technology – with the intention that the new pieces might suit the Guv’nor better.

Exhibition of Pashley Guv'nor retro-styled accessories at BIAD Winter 2009

All the concept designs were brought together into an Exhibition which took place in Winter 2009.

The project formed part of the Product Evolution module, looking at the rise of retro within product design. Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Pashley, said he was "blown away" by the quality of the 22 student concepts shown to him. 

Adrian Williams, Managing Director, Pashley Cycles (right front)
viewing MA Product Design Guv'nor Accessories concepts with colleagues
Having viewed all the entries, Adrian was so impressed by the calibre, brand authenticity and attention to detail demonstrated in the students' work, and was so keen to work with one of Graham’s students he offered Jon Cumberpatch, who had completed the MA Product Design the previous year, a design contract with Pashley Cycles.

For further information about the project and/or the MA Product Design course at BIAD contact  and on twitter

Retro-styled bicycle pump design
by MA Product Design Student, Thomas Slack


Pashley Guv'nor with retro-styled concept reflector designed by Peter Whitehouse

David Nicolle, MA Product Design Student with Pashley Guv'nor
and student designed Retro-styled Accessories

Pashley Guv'nor with retro-styled water bottle designed by Chien Chien Chu

Pashley Cycles Guv'nor
with Concept Mudguards in Brass, designed by David Nicolle
Retro-styled Thermos Flask designed by Alexia Delas
Retro-styled Bicycle Pump designed by Thomas Slack
Retro-Styled Reflector designed by Peter Whitehouse

Model David Nicolle

To view video of Adrian Williams and his colleagues at Pashley discussing the design and hand-build processes employed at Pashley Cycles visit

For further information about Pashley Cycles visit

Students Cook Up Design Treat for AGA

AGA cast iron cookers
 In summer 2009 AGA Rangemaster plc, parent to AGA, the cast iron cooker company, set MA Product Design students at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design (BIAD) a challenge  - to design a concept AGA cast iron night storage radiator in one week, fulfilling the following objectives –
  1.Presenting a fresh, new product message to the current target market
  2. Creating a new revenue through expansion into cast iron night storage radiators
  3.   Increasing interest with customers already aware of the brand
  4.   Increasing awareness of the brand, with a focus on stimulating interest from new customer segments.
The design specifically needed to utilise night storage electricity, have the same design aesthetic and principles as AGA cookers and be an efficient and effective source of heat.
The winning design student was promised a work placement at AGA.
For students involved in this one week design challenge a steep learning curve followed. 

2009 MA Product Design Students visit
 AGA factory in Ketley, Telford

After receipt of the design brief students visited a combination of AGA retail outlets and factories – the AGA foundry in Coalbrookdale and the factory in Ketley, Telford and received a lecture on ferrous metals.
MA Product Design Students working up
AGA Heat Storage radiators for competition

The students were responsible for the production of their concept designs which were made in the BIAD workshops. 

On completion AGA directors attended an Exhibition of the completed concepts – five days after presenting the MA Product Design students with the competition brief.

Yu-Chein, Lui, AGA Heat Storage Radiator, Winning Concept
Design focussed on flexible use of heat storage radiator in bathrooms and elsewhere

Tassilo Neumann, AGA Heat Storage Radiator, Winning Concept
Design providing seating and storage for shoes and other items

AGA Directors were so impressed by the quality of the designs they selected two winners to take up placements  - Tassilo Neumann and Yu-Chein, Lui – winning designs pictured above.

William McGrath
AGA Rangemaster plc
Group Chief Executive
On viewing the work Group Chief Executive, AGA Rangemaster plc, William McGrath said,  “Our AGA design and marketing team set the MA Product Design students at Birmingham City University a brief to come up with ten new product proposals for potential AGA night storage heaters.
“The results, amazingly produced in only 3 days, really impressed us and will no doubt stimulate further debate and development in the near future.
“We are delighted to be able to offer the two ‘best’ students work placements at our company too, although we would like to congratulate all the students on the quality of their designs.”

Both winners, Tassilo Neumann and Yu-Chein, Lui, were tasked during their week-long placement at AGA to working together to propose a new cooker concept that might be produced at the Rangemaster factory from steel, whilst still retaining the AGA cooker's (cast iron) aesthetic and values. The concept produced (below) greatly impressed the AGA team.

Tassilo Neumann Placement Project Concept AGA Cooker

MA Product Design Student submissions for the AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept Design Competition -

Judith Genster AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
Design providing drying for herbs, spices, foods and accessories

Brian Peers AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
heater with drying rail

Szu-Jung Yu AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
Design providing convenient internal drying space

Jon Cumberpatch AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
Providing heat storage 'drawers' which can be withdrawn and moved around the home

Amy Blackwell AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
heat storage cavities together with heated trays

Fan Shoating AGA Heat Storage Radiator Concept
the 'AGA Pet' - ready to move with its owners from room to room

Chih-Kai Huang AGA Heat Storage Radiator concept
Heated seat with drying or heating space for shoes and other items

Chan Solanki, AGA Heat Storage Radiator concept

For further information about the project and/or the MA Product Design course at BIAD contact  and on twitter

For Further information about AGA Rangemaster plc visit