Emily Cummins

Emily Cummins

When I was four, my Grandad gave me a hammer and began to teach me how to make toys from scraps of materials found in his garden shed. I loved the fact that we could make something out of seemingly random bits, and my interest in sustainable design was born. As I got older I learnt about the properties of different materials and became more experienced in using a range of tools.

Now I'm 27 and my latest innovation is a sustainable fridge which is 'powered' by dirty water but keeps medicines or small food items clean, dry and cool. I refined my fridge during a gap year in Namibia and then decided to give away the design plans in townships across southern Africa because I wanted to enable as many people as possible to build their own fridges.

My design philosophy involves a back-to-basics approach which keeps an eye on the past as well as the future and combines the best of both. I'm motivated by human need as well as sustainability principles. My creative thinking has, amazingly, led to a string of commendations including being named as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Young People in the World 2010, The Barclays Woman of the Year Award 2009 and Cosmopolitan magazine's Ultimate Save-the-Planet Pioneer 2008.