When informed that he had won the prestigious Red Dot “Best of the Best” prize, Yan Shaoting thought the message must have been a scam or prank, but the 16-year-old had indeed been selected as the youngest winner of the top international design prize in the history of the Red Dot Design Awards.

Yan’s project, named “Smart Helix,” stood out from over 5,000 applications from 50 countries around the globe and set a new precedent for a teenager winning a prize at top international professional industrial concept design awards.

“Smart Helix” is a small gadget that makes hanging pictures on the wall much easier. At the same time, it ensures that the pictures are hung evenly. The work also guarantees that damage to the wall is reduced to a minimum.

“My inspiration for the gizmo came from my personal experience. When hanging a painting, we need to drive nails or screws into the wall to support the frame. To ensure that the painting is hung straight, we used to make many measurements, which makes it an arduous and annoying process,” Yan explained as he shared his inspiration for the design with Shenzhen Daily at his school, the Shenzhen College of International Education, on Thursday afternoon.

“When hanging a painting with a ‘Smart Helix,’ we don’t need to place the screws accurately, just roughly drill two screws and drill the lower screw through the hole of the ‘Smart Helix.’ Then, we can check the painting: if it is slanted, we just need to take the painting down and twist the ‘Smart Helix.’ Due to its special shape, it will rise or lower, thus supporting the frame of the painting from a different height,” Yan explained.

Yan said that the highlight of the gadget is that its exterior outline follows the evolute of a curve, which gives the product a beautiful shape and makes it easy to use. It took Yan a little time and effort to find the model of a curve that fit the gadget.

“I didn’t know about this curve theory before, but I was very lucky to discover it as I browsed the Internet to learn how to apply the model of an Archimedean spiral, which ended up not fitting my design,” said Yan.

Yan participated in this well-known international industrial design competition in March. To design and create the winning work, Yan studied several kinds of software and drawing techniques over a month.

However, the student didn’t become a master of industrial design overnight. Since Grade 5 of primary school, Yan has been interested in making his own products. His parents supported his passion for manufacturing by buying a 3-D printer and other equipment for him in his last year of junior high school. With his own hands and gears, Yan made three Iron Man Suits that he would wear during school activities or while playing bass in his twin brother’s band.

Although Yan won the Red Dot Award, he does not limit his future to design alone. The student said he intends to study engineering in university, but will probably be interested in interdisciplinary programs.

The award-winner also told Shenzhen Daily that he has been invited to Singapore to attend the award ceremony and compete for the ultimate prize –“Red Dot Luminary” on Oct. 18. His product will also be exhibited at Red Dot Design Museum Singapore.

The Red Dot Design Award, founded by the German Design Council, has a history of more than 60 years and is listed as one of the world’s three major design awards, along with iF Industrie Forum Design and International Design Excellence Awards. The “Best of the Best” prize is awared to the top level design concepts, and only 40 teams or individuals can win the prize each year.

(Source: Shenzhen Daily)