An innovative polo helmet has won a prestigious international design award.
The Armis polo helmet combines top-level protection with the classic helmet style for the sport and was awarded a Red Dot Award for product design this week.
Designer and polo player Robin Spicer initially came up with the design for his final year project at Loughborough University in 2015 (news, 12 March 2015).
The hat was the first polo helmet to be designed to both the British Standard PAS 015 with a Kitemark as well as fitting MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) patented technology inside. Charles Owen’s My PS and My PS with wide peak will also come with MIPS technology and a PAS 015 kitemark when they are launched next month.
Mr Spicer told H&H he is “over the moon” with the award.
“It has had its fair share of success in the polo industry, but my background is heavily involved in design so to be recognised by the design industry is huge, and for it to be on the biggest industry stage is really humbling,” said Mr Spicer.
He added he continued working on the design “before and after work” around his day job after graduating.
Around two years ago, Mr Spicer took the plunge and quit his job to focus full-time on Armis and launch the helmet commercially.
Polo helmet safety has been a key talking point in the equestrian world in recent years.
H&H polo reporter Aurora Eastwood started a campaign in 2014 for the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) — polo’s governing body in the UK — to bring in a blanket ruling on safer hats.
From 1 January 2018, players’ helmets have been required to meet the same safety standards as jockeys riding under British Horseracing Authority Rules and a list of approved helmets is available on the HPA website.
World number one Adolfo Cambiaso chose to wear an Armis helmet while playing in the UK last season, following a high-profile dispute with the HPA over a different helmet.
“What you do is fantastic, who ever invests to improve polo and polo safety, I am in favour,” Cambiaso told Armis.
Mr Spicer added: “To have the best polo player in the world and the design industry validating the hard work and the risk we have put into doing this is really amazing.”
More than 5,500 products from 55 countries were entered into the 2019 awards, with the Armis helmet one of the 1,549 designs winning a distinction for high design quality.
“My focus isn’t just to have helmets meeting a standard — that should be a given,” added Mr Spicer, who has more products and developments in equestrian technology in the pipeline.
“It is a good looking product and it performs [in terms of safety and design], it has to look beautiful and be desirable.
“It has to be something people want —this has been designed from scratch and people are paying for something unique, it is not a modification of an existing product.”
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The helmet is both designed and made in the UK and also features a machine washable inner headband.
Professor Dr Peter Zec, founder and chief executive of Red Dot, congratulated all the winners.
“The fact that their products were able to satisfy the strict criteria of the jury bears testimony to their award-winning design quality,” said Dr Zec.
“The laureates are thus setting key trends in the design industry and are showing where future directions may lead.”
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