A revolutionary new concept enabling male breastfeeding has this week been crowned the winner of the inaugural Meaning-Centred Design Awards. The male chestfeeding kit provides all the necessary hormones a man needs to produce milk for his baby.
The brainchild of product designer Marie-Claire Springham, the chestfeeding kit comes complete with a pump and compression vest. The idea is at a concept stage, but Marie-Claire hopes the innovation will provoke a profound debate about the meanings behind gender in parenthood. The concept comes as the Government consults on landmark changes to the Gender Recognition Act.
"I'm thrilled to have won such a prestigious award," Springham stated. "The kit has the power to take what we thought we knew about parenting and turn it on its head, breaking down the strict gender and societal roles we have created for new parents. I hope the discussions raised by this project are taken further and inspire even more innovation and progress."
The world's first Meaning-Centred Design Awards celebrate the best brands, organisations, services, apps and products which have managed their own meaning or that of the category/sector they live in. The Awards celebrate design that generates social impact and inspires cultural change.
A panel of experts convened last week at London's Saatchi Gallery to select the winners. The male chestfeeding kit was one of six category winners, coming out on top of a final shortlist of some 18 entries.
The consumer product category was won by Day2 - a dry wash spray for clothes that might otherwise have been destined for the laundry basket. Get Compensation!, an app-based tool empowering the survivors of domestic abuse to seek financial redress, was declared the winner in the social change category.
The services category was won by DoPay - a cloud-based service designed to tackle the financial exclusion of the two billion people worldwide who are in employment yet do not have a bank account. Jelly Drops, a sweet designed to tackle chronic dehydration in people with dementia, was honoured in the student - healthcare category.
Coming out on top in the technology section was Grohe Sense and Sense Guard, a water leak detector designed to protect homeowners from astronomical repair costs caused by flooding.
The judging panel was made up of a host of business and innovation leaders including design theorist Dr Betti Marenko, Visiting Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology and Mark Bickerstaffe, Director of New Product Development at Kohler Co. "In our inaugural year, we were blown away by the number, breadth and quality of entries we received," Awards Chair Julie Jenson Bennett commented. "They provoked many questions about what meaning is, why it matters both to business and society, and how design can change culture.
"The chestfeeding kit deserves particular attention because it challenges the fundamental meanings of male and female, father and mother, parent and child. At a time when we increasingly use hormones, medication and technology to change the life options available to us, Marie-Claire's design concept goes right to heart of our taboos."
Photo: Male Lactation Kit by Marie-Claire Springham