Ergonomic products are often designed for adults and while that is already tough enough to perfect, baby products are an even more elusive challenge for many product designers. How would one design products for those who are still learning and refining their motor skills?
On a flight to New Zealand, Dannielle Michaels found changing her newborn’s diaper to be what she describes as “mission impossible.” After a clumsy and awkward experience, she chatted with best friend Monique Filer about what the ideal solution would look like. An all-in-one essential baby box was born out of the brainstorm and thus, the duo began their journey to reimagine every baby product they could think of. B.Box was born.
The freedom to reimagine, again and again
Due to the intensive prototyping process, the designers chose SOLIDWORKS to ensure that the product functionality and ergonomics are suitable for the target group
Reimagining baby essentials is no easy task, requiring one to not only think about how the product will be initially used by babies, but also how they will continue to use it accounting for their constantly growing bodies and changing habits. These demands result in a very specific set of design needs that product designers must consider in order create a useful product for their very young clientele.
B.Box addresses these challenges by using a combination of observational research and iterative modelling. First, the design team directly observes the behavior of babies in realistic settings. With the collected information, they begin the shaping of mock-ups through 3D modelling, prototyping, and testing to ensure that the product functionality and ergonomics are suitable for the target group. A pediatric occupational therapist was also consulted all throughout this process before taking the products to market.
The intensive prototyping process meant that B.Box needed a proven platform like SOLIDWORKS to design its products. With SOLIDWORKS, designers can use 3D files for prototyping while also building, analyzing, and effectively communicating the design for molding and production purposes. A highly visual design process helps to bridge the product designers with the rest of the production team. The ability to quickly model prototypes visually also results in a more efficient feedback process.
A particularly interesting innovation as a result of the 3D modelling process is B.Box’s patented toddler cutlery set. The set is a unique, user-centered take on children’s cutlery, encompassing a round flower-shaped “flork” fork design with a shovel-like spoon. Used together, the utensils empower children to eat independently while introducing the concept of using two utensils.
The round shape of “flork” considers how a child, at this stage of development, naturally opens their mouth in an “O”-shape, ensuring that no matter what angle or orientation the child holds the cutlery, the food will always find their mouth. The rounded prongs are soft on baby gums and teeth while the sharper center prongs helps to pierce food, but is lower set to prevent injury.
The large shovel-spoon, on the other hand, enables the child to scoop up and push their food onto the fork by using a unique-angled design. The deep scoop helps to hold more food; versus a standard, flatter spoon that children often have difficulty using with liquid or “balancing” food.
The result of the highly imaginative and visually tangible design process enabled by SOLIDWORKS is a whole series of award-winning products launched into the very competitive baby essentials market. These products range from drinking bottles and insulated food jars to spout cups and silicone lids. B.Box has since extended the use of SOLIDWORKS for its new products in production to tap on the proven and advantageous benefits of the software.
10 years since the launch of their first product, the diaper wallet, B.Box has expanded into 20 products sold in 800 stores Australia-wide and in over 35 countries. They were recently ranked #52 in the Financial Times 1000: High-Growth Companies Asia-Pacific and won the 2017 Smart Company Top Exporter of the Year, as well as the 2016 Telstra Victorian Small Business of The Year.For B.Box, this is just the start of their journey. The team is always brainstorming for new ideas. Together with SOLIDWORKS, their creative and innovative spirit can be fully translated into reality.