Skip to main content

Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Neloufar Taheri

Neloufar is a multidisciplinary designer with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Strategic Design & Management from Parsons the New School of Design in New York and dual master's in Innovation Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. 

She is the co-founder of a material innovation start-up called SaltyCo, which developed the world’s first freshwater free textiles.  

Her body of work explores areas such as social innovation, bio-design, speculative design, and design technology through multitudes of scale. 

With an abstract approach to art & design, Neloufar aims to spark questions, share stories, challenge perspectives, and develop alternative systems and solutions to meaningful problems.

Instagram: @nellytaheri

SaltyCo Awards 

Runner-Up ‘Design for Social Impact’ 2020, Core77 

4th Place Community Award 2020, Green Concept Award 

Creative and Consumer Heats Winner and Finalist 2020, Venture Catalyst Challenge (Ongoing) 

Semi-finalist 2020, London Mayor Awards (Ongoing) 


SaltyCo Exhibitions

Architect at Work (Material Driven), Bilbao, 2020 

Green Product Award Exhibition, IHM Munich, 2020 (Cancelled) 

SaltyCo WIP Showcase, The Royal College of Art, 2020 

SaltyCo WIP Showcase, Imperial College London, 2020 

Design Museum Moving to Mars Exhibition London, UK , 2020





Degree Details

School of Design

Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSc)

Neloufar is currently working on the next steps of Project Shir with a milk bank in Harpenden, UK as well as working alongside co-founding members of SaltyCo on the business launch and pilot.

Infants in refugee camps are 50x more likely to die in the first month of their life due to the lack of safe infant feeding practices after mothers temporarily lose their breast milk. Shir is a frugal device that empowers mothers in refugee camps to safely re-lactate and feeds their infants without having to rely on the artificial formula in infectious conditions. One Shir pouch is equivalent to one daily feed, each pouch contains clean drinking water, dried human milk, and a re-lactation aid. Shir is part of a system that utilizes freeze-dried technology to dehydrate human donor milk that would otherwise be thrown out and turns it into a powder that can be delivered to mothers in refugee camps. The re-lactation aid helps mothers regain their own breast milk while ensuring their infants are receiving the nutrition they require throughout their transition.

product specs

The Shir device is a one-use feeding pouch. One pouch is equivalent to one daily feed. The pouch features a dual component cap filled with 9 grams of freeze-dried human milk powder, 90 ml of sterile water, and an adhesive re-lactation aid feeding tube.

Prototyping Process

Shir uses dried human donor milk as an alternative to formula feed. The milk is freeze-dried after being collected from donors and pasteurized. It is then turned into a powder or tablet while maintaining 80-90% of its nutritional value, which is far superior to artificial formula. The process works by freezing the liquid milk, then reducing the pressure, and adding heat to allow the ​frozen water in the material to sublimate.

The benefits of human milk become especially critical in the context of refugee camps where the risk of infection is higher. In emergencies, diarrhea, and respiratory tract infections, both associated with malnutrition, are the most common causes of death.


“freeze-dried human-milk”

Re-lactation Aid

Re-lactation Aid:

The re-lactation aid is essentially a very small tube attached at the breast, allowing the baby to still suckle at the breast while consuming the freeze-dried human milk. This process in turn will stimulate the mother‘s own breast milk, allowing the infant to gradually move from the freeze-dried human milk to the mother‘s own breast milk, as her flow continues to increase.

User Pattern:

Approximately 90% of mothers regain their own breast milk within 2-4 weeks. The goal is to gradually move Shir users to natural breastfeeding and the use of complementary Shir pouches when necessary. Shir is designed for infants under 6 months who would typically require 8-12 pouches a day depending on their feeding habits and weight. Mothers will pick up pouches weekly and track feeding patterns with on-site health-care professionals to ensure the infants are receiving the necessary nutrients and slowly moving towards complete breastfeeding.


The Shir system begins at the partnering milk bank, at which point the donor milk that would otherwise be wasted will be dehydrated through a freeze-drying process. This process is done in collaboration with the lab that contains the necessary equipment and specialties. The human dried milk is then transferred into the Shir feeding device, packaged, and sent to the health-care center points in refugee camps.

The Shir user journey aims to simplify accessibility for mothers, therefore each touchpoint is made into a frugal, delightful, and intuitive experience.

Lo-fi Prototyping

The Shir co-design involved extensive rapid low-fi prototyping and re-iteration. The prototyping was examined into the following categories: water sanitation, re-lactation aid, freeze-dried feed, dispense mechanisms, shape/design, ergonomics, and sustainable materials.

Final Prototype

The final working prototype consisting of a 90mL water pouch, a plastic re-lactation aid, a 2mm feeding tube, 9 grams of freeze-dried human milk, a 3D printed PLA dual cap, and an adjustable cross-body strap.

Refined Renders

Previous Student

Next Student

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
Royal College of Art
Registered Office: Royal College of Art,
Kensington Gore, South Kensington,
London SW7 2EU
RCA™ Royal College of Art™ are trademarks
of the Royal College of Art