Product Design Spotlight: The Little Bottle That Could
Why the key to revolutionary innovation is being completely incompetent.
By Maria Popova
UPDATE: Thanks to reader Kimmo for pointing out that we (as in our source) had gotten both the designer’s and the product name wrong. Thanks, AdAge, for the always-reliable information…
Is it possible to create a plastic bottle that isn’t just a despicable hallmark of human wastefulness? According to Finish designer Stefan Lindfors, yes.
Linfoss has created PLUP, a donut-shaped plastic bottle that not only revolutionizes the aesthetics of beverage manufacturing, but also solves some of the industry’s largest functional and environmental problems.
One of the biggest shortcomings of traditional bottles is that they can’t be stacked. Which means they take up too much space to store, they tip over on the table, and they’re a nightmare to transport. With PLUP, a waiter can put several bottles on a stick and take them to the table, and you can use the string that comes with the product to attach it to your belt when you go for a run on a hot day or just roam around town.
I think it’s very important that you don’t have too much knowledge of the industry as a designer, because it prevents you from flying high enough. If you do have a lot of knowledge, you have to have the ability to let go of it in the creative process.
But here’s the best part: PLUP is made of a modified PET polymer, which is not only highly recyclable, but also extremely durable, making the bottle as reusable as your average Nalgene, but without the carcinogenic connotations. At the same time, the design — pure aesthetic brilliance — is “cool” enough to actually encourage such reuse, transforming the bottle from a functional aid into a lifestyle accessory.
Okay, we lied: The real best part is that in every country where PLUP is distributed, a major share of the profits from each bottle sold goes to a charity fighting a major local environmental problem. (In Finland, for instance, donations go towards cleaning up the Blatic Sea, which is the world’s most polluted natural water resource.)
See the interview with Stefan and watch as PLUP transforms the packaging industry’s sorest spot.
Published March 17, 2009