Wool coffin wins national innovation competition

Coffins made entirely from wool are being touted as the next innovative product using New Zealand merino, by the company behind global successes including All Birds and Icebreaker.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) partners with a range of companies using wool in new ways and recently opened their innovation centre, Studio ZQ in central Christchurch.

The company has been searching for the next big thing in wool, in a Wool-Ovation competition with Idealog magazine.

From 92 entries received, the winner was announced as industrial designer Bec Bartells from Auckland, who wants to develop a casket made entirely from strong wool.

Judges were impressed with the mini prototypes of the wool caskets.
Judges were impressed with the mini prototypes of the wool caskets. Photo credit: Idealog

NZM Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Manager, Gretchen Foster said the judges were impressed with the idea.

"Entrants had to look at a particular problem to solve and consider the social and environmental impact of the solution - and how wool contributed to that," she said.

She said the wool coffins fitted the brief of what the judges were looking for.

"It's an industry not going to be shrinking anytime soon."

She said the judges were also impressed with the prototypes developed by Bartells.

As part of the prize, the wool casket will now be developed as a product at Studio ZQ, and Bartells will travel to Christchurch and San Francisco to work on the idea. 

Finalists in the awards included, Motherload Nappies which use wool as an alternative to disposable nappies and Beehive Covers, which prevent loss of hives in winter and replace existing polystyrene.

The two concepts were highly commended by the judges and will receive a half-day session at StudioZQ to further explore the feasibility of their ideas

It was a tough job for the judges.
It was a tough job for the judges. Photo credit: Supplied

The People's Choice award went to Strongwool luggage that has the potential to solve a flight safety risk of fire in stowed luggage using wool's fire retardant properties

A wool paint product was also a finalist.

Judges were Elly Strang, editor of Idealog Magazine, Steve Williamson, Manager of StudioZQ, Logan Williams, NZM's Director of Innovation and Jody Bowman, Communications Advisor at Pāmu (formerly Landcorp).