The ALEX Bottle
Nice Reusables, Inc
The ALEX Bottle
An innovative eco-friendly stainless steel water bottle that provides a convenient alternative to disposable plastic bottles. The design features a mid-body split known as ‘Clean Seam Technology’ which makes it very easy to clean and allows itself to compact to half size, providing space savings during shipping/traveling/storing.
Treasure Hinds & Greg Janky
NICE REUSABLES, INC
Chris Hotell, Marta Hotell, Gretchen Bleiler
Julie Lasky: This stainless water bottle unscrews at the middle for cleaning and compact storage (the two pieces nest), so it's not only eco-friendly and hygienic but also space-saving. Hard to beat.
The ALEX Bottle
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
- Eco-friendly and healthy :: all of the materials and design decisions had to hit both of these criteria. A resulting example is that the final bottle is designed for the least amount of plastic to touch the water as possible.
- Easy to clean :: other reusable water bottle designs, with their small mouth openings, require brushes of special cleaning tables just in order to clean them. Even then you can’t really see whether they are clean or not. When your bottle isn’t clean, it builds up unhealthy bacteria and begins to smell really bad. Ultimately you'll end up throwing it in the recycle bin, or worse, the trash. This bottle’s unique mid-body split is designed specifically to address these dirty issues and make it super easy and simple to clean, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
- Nesting :: for a smaller, more compact size. The bottle is designed to nest the bottom half into the top half, compacting the overall volume into half the space. This provides easy storage and space saving for traveling and shipping, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint.
- Clean and modern aesthetics :: create something desirable and lust-worthy.
- Develop IP around splitting the body in the middle.
We got extremely excited about this project. It was a "face-palm" moment for us, the product is such an obviously good idea and we were thrilled to be the design team selected bring it to life.
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 brief from the client was simple and straight forward; design a family of stainless steel water bottles (two different capacities) that split in half for easy cleaning, nesting, have as minimal contact between water and poly propylene #5 as possible, and of course be well designed.
Our addition to the design requirements were to create a clean, iconic and easily recognizable form, and to design a family of bottles with modular elements in order to reduce part cost and tooling investment for the client.
Our solution is a family of water bottles that use the same plastic and silicone molded parts on both bottles with the only difference being the height (and thus capacity) of the stainless steel bodies.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Each of these were considered heavily when designing the ALEX Bottle, however, the environment was the primary interest and focus. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. The number one goal of NRI is to reduce number of plastic water bottles discarded into the planet each day, period. Stainless steel and polypropylene are durable, resilient, and recyclable materials, and when utilized correctly can serve their collective purposes for a lifetime.
The ability for the bottle to split in half and nest for packing/shipping meant that the companies carbon foot print was greatly reduced, furthering the brands goal of impact on the planet. The second goal was to reduce the number of parts and manufacturing processes wherever possible in order to keep our clients tooling and assembly costs as low as possible. Nice Reusables, Inc. is a “boot-strapping start-up” and every penny counts while getting to market. The third goal was to take the first two goals and design an iconic form that is as iconic and ubiquitous to the water bottle market as “Kleenex” is to facial tissues. These goals all helped define and shape the family of bottles.
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.
Mid-body Split :: This was a “face-palm” moment for us during the initial meeting with the client. The design research and development process employed a comprehensive competitive and comparative market analysis and brainstorming sessions that explored all of what a stainless steel water bottle could be. This included exhaustive exploration into how to best, how to easiest, and how to uniquely approach the mechanics around the mid-body split. The resultant is designed to have as minimal contact between the contained water and the plastic parts as possible.
Environmental + Healthy Materials :: The materials used were chosen for their environmental and health impact. The body is built from 50% recycled Premium Grade 304 stainless steel, a non-leaching and non-toxic material. We specifically used 304 Stainless Steel so we could have a healthy and durable water bottle for you and us. Using this material also allows the design to not need a liner, unlike our ALUMINUM bottle competitors. The Cap and CST mid-body split are made from FDA approved BPA-free recyclable Polypropylene #5. And to complete the story, the wrist strap is made from recycled plastic water bottles.
Modern Aesthetics :: The clean and modern aesthetics in a variety of fashionable colors make the ALEX Bottle strongly iconic and highly desirable. Additionally, the modularity of the design allows for mixing and matching of different colors and sizes. Naked, a special SKU of the bottle highlights its environmental-friendliness by showing off the natural beauty of the raw stainless steel and translucency of non-pigmented polypropylene parts.
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 social value of the Alex water bottle is to reduce the number of disposable plastic water bottles in the world by providing a reusable, cleanable, and compact-able stainless steel water bottle that is easy to clean, use, and store. The brand is also active working in bring clean, potable water to third world regions.
ALEX stands for something: devious do-gooder from the start, ALEX is an acronym for "Always Live Extraordinarily." Innovation with a conscience is an idea that people can get behind. By personifying ALEX, it becomes more than just a water bottle, its a part of your family.
Sustainable, charitable, fashionable: ALEX reminds us to challenge ourselves as we work to improve the small things that make up the whole. We hope our flagship design exemplifies this idea, and, like the idea, ALEX is made to last forever.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
One element we were not able to include in the final design iteration was a flip-up carabiner loop on the cap. The mechanism and part costs proved to be too expensive for first generation productization.