In the spirit of reduce, reuse, recycle we like this silicone based moldable glue that air dries into shape. The bright colors and easy to shape texture looks a lot like play doh, but after setting overnight it proves itself to be quite strong for all those little lifehack fixes around the house. We reached out to inventor Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh to ask her about Sugru and where it all came from.
Tell me a little about yourself and what led you to create Sugru?
I really enjoyed studying fine art in college so went on to do a Masters in design at the RCA in London. It wasn’t long before I realized I was a rubbish designer and didn’t want to make new things when there was already too much stuff in the world. It was whilst I was playing with different materials that the first idea for Sugru came about. I wanted to make something that allowed other people to be designers, something that would enable others to fix and redesign things to work better for them.
How does Sugru work? What kind of material is Sugru?
Sugru is a moldable glue that sticks to almost anything and turns into a strong flexible rubber overnight. It forms a strong bond to lots of stuff including aluminium, steel, ceramics, glass, wood and some plastics and rubbers. As well as being a strong adhesive it also fills gaps like a putty so it’s really useful to have in the house. It’s water and heat proof as well and it comes in 10 different colors, although you can mix it to make any color you like.
Is Sugru removable from the surfaces it’s been stuck on?
Yes, you can cut it off most non porous surfaces and get any extra residue off with your nail.
What goes into the product development process?
Over ten years the product development has moved on from just me in a lab to a team of professional chemists and engineers. They work constantly on improving and testing Sugru’s performance as well as introducing new kits and ideas. Color choice has been a mix of feedback from our community and trends within the home.
What about the magnet kit? Where did that idea come from?
The magnet kit was born out of our enthusiasm about a marriage made in heaven! If you put Sugru onto a magnet and stick it somewhere like the underside of a shelf, it will be just the first of many organizing hacks you’ll do.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered along the way? And how have you overcome them?
Different years pose different challenges. Breaking into retail has been a huge learning curve, as too has launching into non English speaking territories and crowdfunding is always quite a journey. With each challenge the team behind you makes all the difference so it’s critical that everybody is aiming for the same thing – in our case to get more people fixing and making things again!
What are you hoping to do with the Sugru next?
We’re hoping to open up the range to younger children. The kids of today are the fixers and do-ers of tomorrow so watch this space..
What’s your favourite part about developing Sugru?
Definitely seeing what our community use it for. I invented a solution to not just one problem and it’s the people using it that come up with the best uses that never fail to surprise and delight me and the rest of the team. A Sugru project is shared and uploaded every three hours and this is largely down to the way it makes people feel when they’ve fixed something or solved a problem.
What are your favorite Sugru DIYs?
Probably the really simple but inventive fixes people do for each other. Like the boys who added bumpers to their granddad’s phone so he could pick it up more easily, the woman who added Sugru blobs to microwave buttons for her visually impaired husband and the dad who built up the brakes on his daughter’s new bike because she couldn’t quite reach them. Sugru is for everyday problem solving and that’s where people get most creative.
What’s your personal style in home design? What are your major influences in design?
I love collecting and combining things of different ages, colors, materials and textures. For example I got totally obsessed with Azilal wool rugs from Morocco last year, they have amazing bright colors, have lived a life already and because of how they’re made each one is unique and has a hand-made random quality to them. You can spend hours on Etsy just exploring them. I have a lot of old things from my parents’ and grandparents’ houses, that I really enjoy using knowing they used them many times in the past. For example a great little wrought iron frying pan that’s just perfect for pancakes – that belonged to my Granny and she used to enjoy making fried eggs in it.
I love indoor plants too, and I love how they bring life into a room, if I can keep them in good shape and growing, with a healthy shade of green it’s so rewarding!
What advice would you give anyone who wants to create their own products? Or who is passionate about crafting or repairing?
Start small and make it good. This was a great piece of advice a friend gave me whilst I was starting up.
*This article has been edited for clarity and length.