What Product Design Problems Do You Want Solved?

What Product Design Problems Do You Want Solved?

Sarah Coffey
Apr 29, 2009

Last night, we attended the Chicago premier of Gary Hustwit's documentary about industrial design, Objectified. The director was there, along with Dan Formosa of Smart Design, to answer questions about the film and industrial design in general. Much of the movie, and the following Q&A, focused on design as problem solving. How do you make a better product that people will need, want, and love? What do you do with it after its life is over? On the way home from the movie, my husband and I started talking about the design problems we'd love to see solved...

I have an issue with the way most upholstery is designed. It's rarely easy to clean, and recovering furniture can be extremely expensive. When we were shopping for a sofa, we wanted a fabric (not leather) sofa we could keep for a lifetime, that wouldn't degrade too much with age, and would be fairly easy to clean. We settled on the Case Study Daybed. The frame isn't upholstered (making it easier to clean), the foam cushions could be reupholstered in the future if need be, and the design is simple enough that it can adapt to our decor as our style evolves.

The big problem we have with this sofa (and pretty much all sofas) is how difficult it is to keep the upholstery clean. Slipcovers are OK, but they lose their shape over time and they often obscure the silhouette of the object. We'd love to see a comfortable, stylish sofa covered in some kind of really tough, washable material that's kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and environmentally-friendly. Or maybe just a durable material we could depend on for a DIY upholstery job.

What product design problems have you encountered in your daily life that you'd love to see solved?

Photo: Objectified

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