Our First Rising Star


Our very first Rising Star Internship has been awarded to Eleanor Nieman, a second year Product Design Engineering student at Loughborough University with a passion for making things functional and beautiful. The time that she spent living in Norway fed her love for the Scandinavian design philosophy and fueled her appreciation for products that exist in harmony with the user and their environment to enhance the way we live. 

Eleanor’s design and manufacturing coursework includes projects to reduce domestic food waste by educating children about the value of their food by providing an easy, hands-on and sustainable way for them to grow their own food at home. To maximise sustainability Eleanor designed the product to be made out of mycelium, using sawdust as a substrate. 

Another successful project with her group, ‘Under The Sea’, produced a concept for an air-filtration product to be used by people living in underwater domes. Again, she focused heavily on ensuring that all materials used could be sourced in an underwater environment, with the body of the final product to be made from the seaweed biocomposite, Furolite. 

In September 2023 Eleanor relocated to the historic city of Porto to join the team at VIVA Lab for her six month internship. VIVA Lab is one of the 2,000 digital fabrication laboratories in a worldwide network that aims to democratize access to personal and collaborative invention, using digital technologies to make (almost) anything. A creative space of excellence Eleanor will have the opportunity to collaborate with unlikely partners, take risks and try new things. The Lab’s free learning environment helps to change ways of thinking, visualise ideas then put them into practice.

One of VIVALab’s objectives is to improve the economy by providing solutions that see communities as one of the key elements in creating an alternative global recycling system. Eleanor will design and manufacture products with a lower environmental impact from renewable resources that are easier to break down or recycle at end of life. She will learn how to set up community-based recycling businesses that can be introduced to some of the global coastal communities that we work with. As Eleanor’s skills and experience develop in the coming months, we will be offering exciting sustainability solutions to companies wishing to expand their ESG and net zero commitments.