Wool-ovation

Companies like Allbirds and Icebreaker have experienced worldwide success, and now, we've partnered with the New Zealand Merino Company to find New Zealand's next wool product. We're calling for designers, innovators, and people with ideas to submit a commercially viable product made from wool and win the chance to bring it to life, as well as a prize worth $7000.

Wool-ovation

Wooly brilliance

Idealog is one of the few media brands dedicated to celebrating New Zealand’s special brand of creativity. The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) has helped transform the sheep industry from a faceless commodity into a supplier for premium global brands. So, we teamed up to celebrate the opening of its Studio ZQ innovation space in Christchurch and our design community’s talents by asking our audience to design a product that harnesses the potential of strongwool, in the same way that Allbirds and Icebreaker have done with New Zealand farmers’ merino wool. The winning effort will be developed as a product at Studio ZQ, NZM’s new innovation space, as well as the winner going on two-all expenses paid trips to Christchurch and San Francisco. The power of a deadline saw the entries flooding in at the last minute, with 92 entries and 783 people’s choice votes. Here are the finalists.

Competition

Idealog is teaming up with New Zealand Merino Company to celebrate both the opening of its Studio ZQ innovation space in Christchurch and our design community's talents by holding a nation-wide search for a wool product that harnesses the protentional of this natural fibre. To get the inspiration flowing, here are some of the entries that have already been submitted to the Shuttlerock page here, including woollen speakers, shower puffs, oven mitts and bean bags. Plus: we have extended this competition until Thursday 11 July at 5pm to give people more time to enter.

Woollen sounds

There was once a time when farmers picked wool remnants off shoddy barbed wire fences because of its financial value. Back in the 1990s, wool was New Zealand’s largest exporter and now it’s 19th among our commodity exports. Currently, farmers are unsure what to do with it, where in the case of strong wool, it’s more costly to shear the sheep than sell the wool. However, in some corners, wool is now experiencing a resurgence thanks to a few brainy locals and the advancements of technology. The latest example is a 3D acoustic tile made for commercial interiors, which has a host of wellness and sustainability benefits. The product, named Floc 3D, is made in a collaboration between NZ Merino and T&R interior systems and reimagines the opportunities for strong wool. We travelled down to Christchurch to view the launch of the new wool acoustic panels.

Competition

Idealog is one of the few media brands dedicated to celebrating New Zealand’s special brand of creativity. The New Zealand Merino Company has helped transform the sheep industry from a faceless commodity into a supplier for premium global brands. So, like Allbirds and Icebreaker are to merino farmers, we've teamed up to to celebrate the opening of its Studio ZQ innovation space in Christchurch and our design community’s talents by asking our audience to design a product that harnesses the potential of strongwool. The winner will win two all-expenses paid trips worth more than $7000: a five-day trip to Christchurch to develop their idea, and a five-day trip to San Francisco, USA to meet with US-based innovation experts. Read on to find out more.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what advertising, design and digital agency Special Group came up with: a Merino typeface, and Port-a-Cloud, a portable cloud on a stick.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what interdisciplinary design studio Isthmus came up with – comfort felt.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what Virtuo came up with – a replacement for circuit boards, CarbonWool.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what wool product company Naturesclip came up with – a replacement for bubble wrap, OceanWool.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what Papertowns Design Studio up with – a Wool Rugby Ball.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what furniture designer David Trubridge up with – a lantern made of wool and hemp.

The Wool Challenge

At Idealog, we regularly celebrate our design community's brilliance. Admittedly, we also get a twisted sort of pleasure out of making our annual design challenge harder and harder each year – but that’s because we want to ensure the community continues to think outside the box. Thanks to our friends at Icebreaker, we sent out a box of very raw wool fibre to some talented humans in a range of design disciplines and tasked them with recreating an everyday object using wool. Here’s what digital agency Method came up with – an interactive wallpaper, Woolpaper.

Creativity Month

It’s time for New Zealand’s entrepreneurs to remove the wool from their eyes and see the many potential uses for our own natural fibres, New Zealand Merino Company says. While companies like Allbirds and Firewire Surfboards are paving the way for innovative ways to use wool, to help fast-track the revival of this material, the organisation has opened an innovation space in the heart of Christchurch city to develop creative business ideas and encourage more wool and fibre-based businesses to arise in Aotearoa. We chat with CEO John Brakenridge about the opportunity for the both the start-up sector and the agriculture industry.

Good wool hunting

Tauranga based surfboard shaper and tinkerer, Paul Barron, has engineered a new way to use wool – to make surfboards – which has led to a partnership with US-based Firewire Surfboards, owned by surfing sage Kelly Slater. Additionally, Barron has partnered with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) to develop a new wool composite technology that could revive the global wool market. It rides the wave of other companies turning wool into innovative products, namely Allbirds, which has made a killing turning the ubiquitous material into shoes.

Big deal

Icebreaker has been sold to US-based footwear and apparel retailer VF Corporation, which also owns the likes of Timberland, Vans, Wrangler, Lee Jeans, and The North Face. We're republishing this story about Icebreaker founder Jeremy Moon and chairperson Rob Fyfe's vision of a $1 billion brand.

Taking flight

Rave reviews, impressive sales, celebrity endorsements, a Purple Pin at the Best Awards … The Wool Runner from Allbirds has tapped into the growing desire for ‘anonymous luxury’ and is riding a wave of popularity. But it’s no overnight success. In the presence of about seven years’ worth of prototypes, co-founder Tim Brown and designer Jamie McLellan tell Ben Fahy about the long and winding road they had to travel to bring their vision to life.