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Lending a hand through design: Meet Loren Lim, Inventor of Oneware

A chat with the 2016 winner on his plans for Oneware

13 April 2021

It all began with a problem. Loren witnessed his uncle, a stroke sufferer, facing challenges in the kitchen doing simple kitchen tasks such as cutting ingredients and washing the dishes. It then dawned on him that kitchens aren’t designed to meet the needs of people with just one functioning arm. Determined to help his uncle regain his confidence in the kitchen, Loren set to work inventing a kitchen tool that would make everyday life in the kitchen for those with only one functioning arm an effortless experience.

We caught up with Loren Lim, 2016 National Winner of the Singapore James Dyson Award to trace his journey from conceptualisation through to manufacture.

What inspired Oneware?

It all began when I witnessed my uncle live through a stroke, which left him with one non-functioning arm. He had always been passionate about cooking and would frequently be found in the kitchen preparing food for the family. After the stroke, I noticed him struggle through basic food preparation tasks such as chopping food and washing the dishes.

It’s a challenge when everything in the kitchen is designed for people with two functioning arms. It was then when I decided to invent a kitchen tool that is suitable for everyone, whether they have one or two functioning arms. That was what inspired me to invent Oneware.

What is Oneware, and how does it work?

Oneware is a series of modular units that aids individuals with one available arm in food preparation and dish washing. Oneware consists of a main frame with modular units that include a chopping board and a silicone net for washing of dishes.

The chopping board has ridges that allow food to be anchored in place so that user can cut food with just one hand. Meanwhile, the silicone net holds plates and bowls in place, allowing them to be scrubbed and washed with one hand.

Oneware is designed to fit most standard sized sinks to accommodate most users.

What inspired you to enter the JDA?

I wanted to be part of a well-recognised design award that celebrates new and brilliant ideas that solve real world problems. I also wanted to connect with other designers who share my aspirations – using the power of design to help others.

What James Dyson Award prize did you win? How did the prize help you?

I was the National Winner of the 2016 James Dyson Award in Singapore. The prize money helped me to develop newer and better iterations of Oneware.

What did you learn from entering the James Dyson Award?

Don’t be afraid of sharing your ideas with others. Entering the JDA is a great way to learn from other designers.

What were your next steps once you won your prize?

I had a very clear goal of improving the design of Oneware. The first step was to search for a suitable food-grade silicone material for the net. The second step was to figure out how to optimise Oneware’s design for mass manufacturing.

What are you doing now 5 years after entering the Award?

I am now a UIUX (User Interface & User Experience) designer. I am now developing myself and building up my capabilities in designing a digital space – beyond the physical. It is my wish that designers approach design in a meaningful and inclusive way too.

What has been your biggest learning over the past 6 years?

Preparing a product for manufacturing is a difficult process as you have to work very closely with the manufacturer to ensure that the design remains optimal and faithful to its intended function. It is important to identify partners that share your vision, and who want to help you achieve that.

What would you say to someone thinking of applying to the James Dyson Award this year?

If you are passionate and believe that your invention will help and solve a real problem, do apply to the JDA! You'll get lots of valuable experience. Plus, you’ll get to connect with many like-minded people too!

What are your next goals for your invention?

I’m glad to share that Oneware is close to launching!

What do you hope to see more of in the world of engineering and design?

I hope to see more designers and engineers step forward to create products that address real needs and solve problems.

Any advice for future engineers and inventors?

Do what you think is right, and always talk to your end users to understand their points of view.

How does it feel to be recognised by the JDA?

I’m very honoured to receive this award. The recognition I’ve received from the JDA pushes me on to continue designing products that are useful and helpful for others.

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