The Product Design Grand Prix’s Canadian connection

A product that adds iron to food comes from a Canadian company, and got its start at the University of Guelph.
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While Canada didn’t walk away with a win in Product Design at Cannes (we had only two entries to the category that resulted in no shortlist mentions), we do have a connection to the Grand Prix. The big winner was the Lucky Iron Fish Project.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a piece of iron in the shape of a fish – a good luck symbol in Cambodia – that can be placed inside cooking pots to transfer iron into food.

The idea was to reduce the amount of people in Cambodia who suffer from iron deficiencies, where it is staggeringly high at 50% of the population, and which can cause birth defects and even deaths.

The idea came from a PhD student at the University of Guelph, Christopher Charles, who started the project with the idea of a cast-iron block as a cost-effective source of iron. But Cambodians weren’t using the boring, grey block of metal to cook with, as hoped. So the idea was hatched to make it the shape of a cultural symbol of hope and good luck – a fish.

In December 2012, a company called The Lucky Iron Fish Project was formed, with Gavin Armstrong, another PhD candidate at the University of Guelph, brought on as president and CEO.

According to a CBC article published last year, there are plans to bring the fish to Canada with a charitable angle – for each fish sold for $25 here, the company will donate three fish to people in Cambodia.

While the company and the idea are Canadian, the Grand Prix goes to the agency that worked with the company, Geometry Global in Dubai, UAE.