RKS Design Team
American Dryer Corporation
The LaundryPOD provides eco-conscious innovation to save energy, water and answer the need for a quick, easy, and environmental friendly way to wash small loads. It is a portable, hand-powered laundry machine to clean wash and spin dry laundry, providing a solution for developed as well as emerging markets.
RKS Design Team
Ou Ning: This proposal is very good. Because laundry machines are quite heavy, this is something that’s helpful to anyone who often moves—the urban nomad. Tewa Srilakland: I think it’s a good design, the shape looks very clean, the color is simple. I have a baby, and this would be very useful. You could also just use it for underwear and socks, and I like that it saves water and electricity. Ben Hughes: The only problem I had is that it’s difficult to tell how this actually works, or if it works. But other than that, it’s a rather nice idea.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
While re-engineering and re-designing a salad spinner as part of our new design of Zyliss kitchen products, we learned resourceful women were buying salad spinners to wash their delicates. This sparked the idea that the salad spinner technology we innovated could be used to create a portable, hand-powered laundry machine that would be far more appropriate for the task. Designers instantly saw the potential and many could instantly relate to laundry challenges that a small, portable, convenient and inexpensive solution might deliver.
The design team was very excited to work on something unique and on a project that clearly held potential to help kindred spirits – college students, apartment/studio dwellers. The team was also excited that the endeavor had potential to save considerable water and energy associated with washing, as well as the inconveniences associated with laundry in the developed world.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The design team challenged themselves to create an easy-to-use, energy efficient, eco-conscious laundry device that didn’t sacrifice style for function.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Environmental benefits like water and energy reduction were carefully considered throughout every phase because these were a primary project driver; LaundryPOD was even designed to use materials that would provide recyclability at the end of its useful life.
Designers anticipated that user’s environments and design needs would vary, as would their underlying purchase motivations. For many ladies washing delicates is well, delicate, especially if you share a laundry room in an apartment building, dorm or with a group of roommates. They need a quick and convenient solution for both soaking and agitating that can accommodate their typically space-challenged environments while providing privacy. To do this LaundryPOD would need to be appropriate for countertop display and storable underneath, appearing both modern and universal to aesthetically blend with most interiors decors.
Whether RV owners, campers, truck drivers or others gone for weeks at a time, the lightweight LaundryPOD can extend small wardrobes without the inconvenience of delay when drivers ‘just can’t wait to get on the road again.’
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Designers could easily relate to the primary intended users – space-challenged urbanites interested in boosting convenience and/or ‘street cred’ on environmental issues. They conducted primary research on other user needs and aspirations, and then examined available cleaning alternatives and benefits through secondary research, before exploring each group’s typical engagement process. Young designers spoke with other students and space-challenged friends. Finally, designers studied the retail environments of appliances and household goods, where an attractive and compelling aesthetic married with straight-forward utility often spells the recipe for success.
For developed markets, designers understood users would focus on functionality and user experience, as well as aesthetic and storage considerations, depending on their needs. They would be primarily receptive to the conveniences of the product, but their decision would be supplemented by ‘green’ thinking. Designers came to understand that while environmental reasons wouldn’t drive most purchases, it would compel many advocates. They also understood that while the product purchase would likely be driven by functionality, experience and aesthetics, it would be more likely be the ecological benefits that would motivate word-of-mouth endorsements.
Simultaneously designed for ‘developing’ markets, LaundryPOD was quickly viewed to possess significant opportunities to empower women - saving them significant time, reducing physical inconveniences and pain, and empowering with a modern solution. To meet their needs, designers considered aspects like water usage/savings, weight, simplicity and different garment preferences likely to be introduced. Designers were also reminded the device could more likely be a primary laundry solution in these markets.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
The LaundryPOD and its design introduce a number of societal benefits, including:
• Environmental Benefits: LaundryPOD avoids wasting water and energy associated with traditional machines when laundering small loads. The device is made from recycled materials, and even the avoided trip to the Laundromat or dry cleaner saves energy and drives ecological impacts.
• Developed Market Benefits: Small enough to fit under the sink, and attractive enough to serve as a centerpiece, the Laundry POD is a great solution for delicates, hand-washables, or for small loads not worth the trip to the laundromat. Ideal for urban dwellers, RVers, and the eco-conscious everywhere, the Laundry POD is a simple and efficient way to wash small loads quickly, virtually anywhere.
• ‘Developing’ Market Benefits: Hand washing clothes often represents an outsized portion of many women’s average day in emerging markets, where laundry is a major cause of hand cramps and back pain in women. In addition to empowerment LaundryPOD’s design has sparked wide interest as a solution that permits users to side-step wider ranging infrastructure problems such as water scarcity and lack of reliable electricity.
• Relief Benefits: Though not originally designed to aid victims of disaster, the concept has garnered interest for its ability to provide humanitarian comfort where electricity is absent, while minimizing clean water usage – often critically impacted in the immediate aftermath of global calamities.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
Upon reflection designers realize they were a bit naive during initial stages about how significant this project could potentially be, and having this awareness of the devices potential earlier might have further informed the design and/or streamlined the development process while designing to satisfy both ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ market user needs.