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Unexpected places inspire unusually useful creations
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Innovative creations just seem to bubble up in the mind of British designer Luke Cardew who swiftly came up with a cheap, eco-friendly shelter for Sichuan quake survivors.

From a sailboat, a retro-style mobile phone, to even a giraffe-sized unicycle, British designer and inventor Luke Cardew has always been making things. The desire to find practical solutions to perplexing problems began for Cardew as a child when he became involved in the family ceramics business.

Cardew's grandfather, Sir Michael Cardew, was a renowned ceramist who made simple but elegant pots that were much sought after for their individuality and workmanship.

Continuing the family tradition, Cardew spent 12 years making pots, and his grandfather's simple philosophy still informs his approach to his own inventions.

"It all really comes back to my grandfather's saying: 'Practical pots at affordable prices'," Cardew says.

"I don't enjoy the idea of mass producing junk - it has to be a product that actually helps people," he says.

This simple design philosophy inspired Cardew when he came up with a creative solution to the shelter problem arising from the Sichuan earthquake in May.

Cardew was out of the country when he heard of the disaster, but he quickly applied his mind to the urgent need for effective shelters for those whose lives had been devastated by the quake.

His simple design - inspired by local farmers' greenhouses and using locally available split bamboo poles and a recyclable, biodegradable laminated polyethylene sheet - was ready to be distributed in just three weeks.

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