Umbilical Design has been active in the space sector for more than 15 years. Explore our previous cases and projects.
Here are some examples of how Umbilical Design has used its knowledge of space design and space technology transfer to develop new products and solutions, both in space and on Earth. Every euro invested in the space industry benefits society 20 times over in the form of new companies, new products and new jobs.
Umbilical Design has worked with a wide range of large companies over the years such as Volvo Cars, Electrolux, Scania and Björn Borg, and been active in industries such as the forestry industry, the steel industry, the truck and car industry, and the construction industry.
LUND SPACE IMPACT WORKSHOP
In March 2017, Umbilical Design organized the bi-annual networking meeting for all partners from ESA Business Incubation Centres (ESA BIC) and from the ESA Technology Transfer Network in Lund, Sweden. The activity was co-organized together with the City of Lund, ESA BIC Sweden and ESA Technology Transfer Programme Office (ESA TTPO). As part of the meeting Umbilical Design launched the entirely new concept “Space Impact Workshop”. A workshop that enabled interaction between ESA BIC representatives, ESA Technology Transfer Brokers, ESA TTPO and regional companies.
THE THUNDERWEAR – PROTECTING STEEL WORKERS
It all started with a project together with the Swedish steel producers’ association, Jernkontoret, where the purpose of the project was to develop control rooms in the Swedish steel industry inspired by mission control rooms from the space sector. However, during the needs analysis Umbilical Design discovered an urgent need for better underwear for workers in the steel industry.
The steel industry comprises an extreme environment for the workers involved. The workers are exposed to metal splashes, creating burns on both their work clothes and skin. Consequently, Umbilical Design came to the conclusion that we wanted to offer a better alternative to the existing protective undergarments. With help from our colleague Space Brokers in the ESA Technology Transfer Network, Umbilical Design sourced the solution – a non-flammable textile from the space sector. The sourced textile resists heat up to 350 degrees Celsius (662° Fahrenheit) the fibre in itself is flame retardant thus there is no need for a coating and the textile is also biodegradable. Umbilical Design also identified the need of better design and invited the renowned Swedish underwear brand Björn Borg to do the design.
Thus the project became a co-creation between the space industry, the Swedish Steel Producers’ Association (Jernkontoret) and the Swedish underwear company Björn Borg. With this initiative Umbilical Design’s ambition is to provide a comfortable alternative to protect steel workers from burn-throughs from metal splashes and other hot objects. The project resulted in the “Thunderwear” collection, designed by Björn Borg. The collection was launched with our Swedish ESA Astronaut Christer Fuglesang with 250 guests at a successful event in Almedalen, Sweden’s largest political event hosted annually on the island of Gotland.
CRV – CREW RETURN VEHICLE
The assignment was to develop the interior of the Crew Return Vehicle (CRV), which was being planned as a rescue vehicle for the crew of the International Space Station (ISS). The project was carried out with NASA and the European Space Agency, and concerned the interior of a kind of space ambulance. For this project and in their degree dissertation, Cecilia Hertz and her colleagues presented an all-embracing concept that saved both weight and created more volume for the technical equipment. Solutions included integrating the seats with the floor structure. The project drew much international attention and is a clear example of the value of engaging designers and architects at the early stages of the process.
SEASCRAPER – MOBILE HOUSING ON WATER
Cecilia Hertz was one of 9 international space designers invited to participate in the project, which was conceived through Japan’s Bird House Project. Inspired by the hexagonal pattern of snowflakes and the structure of honeycombs, the Seascraper was developed as a possible future dwelling. Each house is based on a modular structure that is placed on a pillar in the sea and clad with a kind of synthetic seaweed that traps the kinetic energy of the waves. Another environmentally friendly detail is that cold seawater can be sucked up as a coolant for the house. Each module can be moved and mounted on a Seascraper at another location.
A helmet in which the shock-absorbing material consists of aluminium foam replaced the commonly used polystyrene-based design. We based our model on the concept of biomimetics, drawing inspiration from the animal and plant kingdoms. Umbilical Design looked to mimic the protection that nature has given to buckhorn sheep: what kind of skeletal structure must they have to protect them when they but their heads together so violently? The creative openness around the origins and structures of different materials conjured up the idea of using an aluminium foam developed by the space industry. That it then transpired that the sheep’s protection actually comes from very powerful neck musculature just reinforced the notion that you don’t have to know everything for a creative process to produce exciting and valuable results. Umbilical Design’s knowledge of helmets is also applicable to other fields, such as motor sports, riding and ice hockey.