But there is none quite like the Millmii. A completely new way of grinding, the peppercorns are crushed by the internal mechanism by simply rubbing the mill back and forth between the palms of your hands.

“This is not just about creating a product that works really well, it’s also about playing to the senses: the smell and the sound of the peppercorns being crushed and also the feel of the product in your hands,” says Nathan Bestwick, designer and founder of UK start-up company Yormii. “The soft touch and raised bobbles on the surface have been described as feeling like a massage.”

The aim with his design was to improve user experience by making it accessible to all users, especially those who have limited strength or dexterity in their hands. The rubbing motion means that no gripping of 

the fingers or twisting of the wrist is required.

 

Realising that his product could go somewhere, this recent Sheffield Hallam University industrial design graduate launched his own kitchen homewares company, Yormii, with investment from UK manufacturers Gripple and Load Hog. Bestwick set up his company to operate out of Load Hog’s extensive Sheffield-based manufacturing facility and innovation centre – The Hog Works.

“It’s an invaluable setup I have with them and I’m very humbled that these fantastic companies have invested in me,” says Bestwick, who has full use of the facilities, including 3D CAD software and prototyping machines, not to mention advice on tap from its designers and engineers.

The key to Millmii’s design is the soft-touch, grippy surface, which is made of a thermoplastic rubber (TPR), with the rest of it predominately made from food-grade ABS plastic. “I designed it to be as easy as possible to assemble, but the all important encircling TPR band provided a challenge, both in production and assembly,” says Bestwick. “Any product that is the first of its kind, like Millmii is, will throw up some challenges, and that’s largely down to not having anything to compare it to during the design process.”

Before the product launch, Bestwick entered Millmii into the internationally acclaimed red dot award: product design 2012, for which it was awarded an honourable mention. The jury stated: “A strong haptic attraction is provided by this kitchen utensil, effectively emphasising its innovative functionality”.

Bestwick says, “The entire user experience that we achieved with Millmii not only makes it a unique product, but a fun and functional one too. And that’s why Millmii won a red dot award: product design for design excellence”.

Millmii was officially launched at the Autumn Fair International 2012, which took place in September 2012 at the UK’s National Exhibition Centre. Five colours were presented – lime, ruby and purple, available as single units, and then the black and white units, which come as a set.

The reaction to this colourful and playful product has been very positive and for Bestwick the best feedback is seeing the smile it brings to people’s faces when they start using it. “People love to be unique and to show their personality through the things they have in their lives that make tasks easier, or fun, or even make a statement about themselves.”

But it’s not just the product that’s innovative – it’s the way he is running his business too. “Yormii will be an employee-owned UK brand that is driven by ideas and innovation. Each employee has a stake in the business, and this in turn provides a dynamic, fast-paced and forward-thinking team that are empowered to make Yormii a success,” says Bestwick.

Last year was a momentous one for Bestwick with the launch of his business and first product, a red dot award in July as well as receiving the Young Designer of the Year Award in the Plastics Industry Awards in September. This year is shaping up to be just as eventful, with four new kitchenware products launching at the Spring Fair 2013 in February.

“My advice for anyone with a product idea looking to go into manufacturing would be to seriously consider your strengths and your weaknesses as a person, and make clear in your own mind what you want to do in your career,” Bestwick says.

“I am predominantly a designer, and I have made decisions in my business that will allow me to continue being the driving force behind new product development. Yes, I also play a large role in all other aspects of my business, but focusing on my strengths and my passions in business, I hope, will make a big impact in making Yormii a success moving forwards because the business is powered by people who love what they do.”

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