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Simple Solutions

January 7th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Mike Migurski has a fantastic post about designing for sustainability, using the example of NIIMI’s Towel With Further Options. From the blurb for the towel (emphasis mine):

Towels take every day dirt and gradually become damaged. In accordance with such changes, you can downsize the towel with “further options” from a bath towel to a bath mat, and then to a floor cloth and dust cloth. The towel has a vertical and horizontal textured surface that does not produce pile-fabric waste when cut with scissors. The lines act as a marker for cutting and form square modules that let you imagine other uses, encouraging you to re-use it.

Mike says:

It’s a beautiful answer to the variety of wiping cloths we use day-to-day, and the place each occupies on a “dirt gradient” from snowy white bath towels to the pile of old rags under the kitchen sink. No more difficult to manufacture than a regular towel, modifiable with just a pair of scissors, and addresses a mundane, universal situation.

Another important aspect of this design is the fact that it make the right thing easy to do, because it’s obvious – what else are you going to do with a line that appears perforated, other than cut it? What else are you going to do with something you’ve just made, other than use it? There are also interesting questions here about what makes sense, for marketers as well as for designers, in trying to make the right thing easy to do.

Part of what makes the design work is its simplicity – it’s still just a towel, but one with gridlines on it. To return to my post about the everyday, things need to be simple if they’re going to work as intended. The last thing anyone needs is information overload from their bathroom linen. This is even more the case for marketers, where endless conflicting messages are (rarely willingly) consumed every day; I’d love to see marketing that could solve problems as elegantly as NIIMI. If you could solve just one of the problems people in your target market face, what would it be? What’s the most basic change you could make that would make a difference to them?

Categories: marketing · product
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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Infovore » links for 2008-01-07 // Jan 8, 2008 at 12:19 am

    […] Simple Solutions | A Better Course “What else are you going to do with something you’ve just made, other than use it?” Empowering people as creators makes them more likely to look after/recyle a product. (tags: recycling environment creativity product design technology) […]