Early Collaboration Bridges Gap Between Designers, Material Supplier
Kingsport, Tenn. Aug. 1, 2012 Its not every day that a chemical company and design firm get together and challenge old approaches to develop a unique product. Yet through the Materials Design Challenge, Eastman Chemical Company and Ziba, a design and innovation consultancy, did just that, realizing firsthand that early-stage collaboration and product development also can produce a model for creating, manufacturing and commercializing products.
The goal of the challenge was to take advantage of the strengths of Eastman and Ziba to help material and design advance one another, and create a product that was manufacturable and offered a unique and elegant design. After exploring more than a dozen concepts, TOPO, the Modern Gentlemans flask, was born, designed to combine the rich character of heritage objects with the functionality and elegance of modern design.
The flask product will first be on display during an Aug. 16 breakfast event at the Industrial Designers Society of America show. The conference runs Aug. 15-18 in Boston.
This is a great example of how early-stage collaboration can bridge the gap between designers and material suppliers to advance both parties as well as design, said Cathy Dodd, director of downstream engagement and design, Eastman. Together, we explored material properties and design possibilities, which opened up a new door to create a showcase product that would not have been realized by the processes Ziba or Eastman typically uses.
The flask product joins design with the exclusive combination of properties and design flexibility of Eastman Tritan" copolyester. Tritan enables dramatic shapes, elevating design freedom and commercial viability, and offers toughness, glasslike clarity and dishwasher durability.
Because of its design flexibility, Eastman Tritan" copolyester enabled the TOPO to be molded so that its inner form honors the topography of the Tennessee hills where whiskey began in the United States. Using Tritan made it possible to mold thick-to-thin sections accomplishing what glass and other plastics could not providing a mesmerizing inner point of interest. Clean, ultrasonic welding that is possible with Tritan creates a watertight seal, while a frosted texture adds to the rugged sophistication. Additionally, an integrated funnel promotes a smooth filling, sipping and pouring experience.
Through the Materials Design Challenge, Ziba and Eastman gained more than just an innovative product. Eastman was able to see the design process with fresh eyes from a new angle. For Ziba, the collaborative process increased knowledge about a previously unfamiliar material.
What's amazing about Tritan is the high-quality, beautiful feel that's almost glasslike, which really sets it apart from other plastic materials, said Paul Backett, industrial design director and packaging designer, Ziba. As an advanced polymer with such incredible flexibility, it had the unique ability to inspire and empower our design process, especially when considered early on. This collaboration has been a great experience for our studio. We have truly enjoyed working with the Eastman team.
In 1984, Ziba was a drafting table in the corner of a small apartment, where founder Sohrab Vossoughi sat for hours designing authentic, meaningful products. Ziba has evolved from its product design roots into a consultancy that offers an integrated approach to design and innovation. It allows us to empathize with every step of the consumer experience, and make it into something beautiful. Over the course of 28 years, we have added consumer insights, brand strategy, trend forecasting, communication design, environment design, engineering, service design and interaction capabilities to make that happen. Solving complex problems with authentic, meaningful solutions is what makes us tick, no matter how rigorous or messy it gets. Ziba has 150 people in Portland, Ore., San Diego, Munich and Tokyo.
For more information, visit www.ziba.com.