Malaysia’s National Winner Of James Dyson Award 2020

Each year, the James Dyson Award (JDA), an international design award, brings together young innovators (comprised of current and recent design engineering students) from 27 countries and regions to find champion design.

The 2020 national winner in Malaysia has just been announced, and the recipient is Kuno, a durable chiller refrigerator that does not require any power to operate.

The young innovators behind it are Kuan Weiking and Theodore Garvindeo Seah from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Information Technology, and they will receive 10,000 RM for their winning design.

Their inspiration for Kuno came from the fact that 16% of the world’s population (about 1.2 billion people) still do not have access to electricity.

Without electricity, many things we take for granted could not work. Take for example a refrigerator to keep our food fresher longer, especially in our humid climate.

However, even in urban areas, blackouts or blackouts can occur suddenly.

Rather than trying to follow the solar path, the two young men drew inspiration from the practices of another era of civilization.

How Kuno Works

Centuries ago, Labu Sayong, a traditional water pitcher molded from earthly clay, was used to cool water naturally.

This is the concept Weiking and Theodore wanted to use for Kuno, as it only required abundant natural resources and could reduce the carbon footprint at the same time.

The duo use the double-walled potting technique and fill the passage between the clay walls with sand. Water will then be poured to soak the sand.

A cross section of Kuno / Image credit: Kuno

“With the help of the porous outer clay wall and the principle of evaporative cooling, the water evaporation will then draw heat from the inner chamber, releasing it thanks to the natural quality of the porous clay. ”, Described Weiking and Theodore.

The natural phenomenon lowers the temperature in the chamber and cools the food stored in the inner core for an extended period.

What I find cool is how they made it virtually impossible for you to forget to water the sand.

Above the main refrigerator, they created a crater for a plant bowl in which you could grow an edible plant.

The plant bowl is lined with holes, so every time you regularly water the plant, the water will travel through the holes and descend into the sand.

Weiking and Theodore began the design process with an initial concept map to identify current poverty issues and how those who live there are affected by the lack of access to electricity.

“Brainstorming and research was done to incorporate the elements of sustainable materials and the study of natural renewable energy sources to make the idea possible,” the duo said.

Then came the ideation sketches and the development stage sketches.

The design sketch between stages of development / Image credit: Kuno

“The results of the temperature tests were also fed back and taken into consideration to determine what appropriate choice of materials should be used,” Weiking and Theodore described.

A handmade product with a potentially big impact

They now have a working prototype and see many opportunities for Kuno’s growth in the cottage industry.

Dictionary time: The cottage industry is a small, decentralized manufacturing business, often operated from a home rather than a purpose built facility. They often focus on the production of labor-intensive goods, but face a significant disadvantage when competing with factory manufacturers who produce goods in mass.


The duo predict that Kuno’s style of production can help those in the stagnant cottage industry revitalize their income and generate more employment opportunities to maintain their livelihoods.

“The next plan is to allocate a fund for further material research, prototyping of different sizes, testing in different weather conditions and regions, working with local potters to create small-scale production for them. market tests, and then to be delivered to the appropriate regions to fully start. the use of Kuno, ”Weiking and Theodore said.

Big, big projects, and I wish them success.

However, I still have questions about Kuno’s overall effectiveness in keeping food fresh, such as how a user would know the sand has been soaked enough, where Kuno should be placed and how it keeps pesky insects out. .

Therefore, I have since contacted Weiking and Theodore via Dyson and will update the article with their responses once I receive them.

As for their current race to be the international winner, the duo will now compete internationally to be shortlisted in the top 20.

  • Meet JDA 2019 Malaysia National Winner Sarah Moi’s Eat. Easy here.
  • You can read more about KUNO here.

Featured Image Credit: Kuan Weiking and Theodore Garvindeo Seah, Malaysia’s National Winners for the 2020 James Dyson Award.

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Jothi Venkat

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