246: Johannes Paul on Modern Urban Chicken Coops.
Engineering a new design for housing poultry and encouraging people to raise backyard chickens.
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Johannes met his three friends James, Simon, and Will, at the Royal College of Art in London where they were studying Industrial Design. In their final year, they designed a revolutionary new chicken house which made it simpler to keep chickens in gardens. It looked rather like an igloo and in a moment of punning genius, they named it the Egglu. They exhibited the first prototype at the graduation show and over 500 visitors expressed an interest to keep chickens in their gardens. At that moment, they decided to move to Oxford and start a company to develop the Eglu.
They created the company Omlet as a way for people to get closer to their food and improve their quality of life through sustainable intelligent design. Over the next 8 months they made over 20 prototypes which they tested with volunteers, each time improving the design. They launched the first Eglu in time for Easter 2004. Since then, the Eglu has been exhibited all over the world and was included in the Victorian & Albert Museum first major exhibition celebrating post war design to coincide with the 2012 Olympics alongside the Concorde and the E-Type Jaguar. Omlet has grown from the original four founders to over 40 committed to encouraging people to discover the joy of collecting their own fresh eggs!
In This Podcast:
When Johannes Paul and his engineering design classmates were challenged to come up with an idea for a class project, little did they know that design could be received so well. A decade later they have a line of products for outdoor pets and small animals, and their design called out as one of the best British designs in the last 100 years.
Listen in and learn about:
- Finding the engineering design course that changed his life
- The project design for a chicken house as a class project
- Moving from college work to creating a new company just to start a new chicken coop company
- The early response for their product including a long waiting list
- The exhaustion they were facing until they finally hired some help
- The stories behind the names Omlet and Eglu
- How they presented their idea in competitions and why the judges did not take them seriously at first
- What he noticed about the resurgence in backyard chicken owners
- The Eglu and some of the descriptions that have come out
- Some of the research they did regarding chicken care and protection from predators
- Descriptions of the different models of chicken coops they make
- Other products they make
- How the products handle the weather extremes
- The portability of the coop and how that benefits the soil
- Using chickens to overwinter vegetable gardens
- Being a part of an exhibition on the Best of British Design during the Olympics
As well as:
- His failure – using rubber clips in a prototype design
- His success – coming up with a way to help people perceive keeping chickens differently
- His drive – designing a product that is good for both the animals and their owners
- His advice – Always eat fresh eggs
Johannes’s Book recommendations:
The Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemmingway
How to find more about the Eglu and reach Johannes: