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John Mearman

Project title



U101 Design Thinking

About me

I’m a mature student (enough said!) who has always held a passion for design and finding creative solutions to everyday problems. 

Reluctantly, I left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications. This was due to financial pressures on my parents - I needed to work to generate an income for my family.

Thankfully, over the years, I’ve managed to carve out a very successful career in the Entertainment industry although I’ve always regretted my lack of a formal education and a recognised qualification.

My philosophy has always been to discover and learn something new each day so the Open University is really helping me maintain this and hopefully, in time, I’ll achieve my goal and earn the qualification I’ve always wanted!

Regardless of whether or not I achieve my academic acknowledgement, I will always continue to create in one form or another as this is what really keeps me motivated and driven.


GRIPPIT is a simple device  that enables doors with round handles to be opened easily by people who have difficulty using their hands to grip or twist. These people include arthritis sufferers, people who may be missing fingers or a thumb and older age groups with a weak grip.

GRIPPIT works by placing a rubberised tape over a round door handle. The excess tape is then pulled through the hollow handle. Levering the handle then causes the tape to be trapped against the doorknob thereby tensioning the tape against the knob allowing the knob to be turned easily.

I began with two problem statements “Design something that allows people with arthritis in their hands or who has missing fingers to open round handled door latches more easily”.


“Design a quick and easy-to-use removable device that allows someone with a weak grip to operate a round handled tap that may be wet and slippery.”

I organised a simple creative meeting with a small group of friends and their children and asked them to come up with problems they encountered in everyday life. 

A recurring problem seemed to concern cylindrical shaped door handles, tap handles, shower controls, and round knobs in general. These types of fastenings can be extremely difficult to use for older people and people with problems with the joints in their hands such as sufferers from arthritis.

Following production of my prototype, the device performed better than I had expected. Not only was it capable of easily opening door with round handles, it could also open tightly fitted jar lids.

I believe the device would be inexpensive to manufacture and easy for consumers to use and understand

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