Coco: Designed for Origin


I often showcase design on this site, but it usually comes in the way of consumer facing products. Things that can be showcased on store shelves and sold to the masses. But that only touches the surface of how design can and should be used. Design, more than making things look good, is about solving problems. Sometimes those problems are communication or marketing problems, but more importantly, systematic and social issues of all kind can be addressed through the design process.

Cue Gabriela Ravassa, an industrial-design student at Parsons, who developed a new product that focuses on those much further down the coffee chain—coffee pickers.

Determined to improve pickers’ working conditions, Parsons product-design student (and native Colombian), Gabriela Ravassa set her sights on redesigning the picking container. The existing buckets–which resemble oversized sand pails that you strap around the waist–put undue strain on workers’ backs and have sharp edges that dig into the thighs, leaving bruises. They’re also difficult to grasp. That increases the chances of dropping coffee beans and can decrease producers’ bottom line.

Ravassa named the bucket “Coco,” which is Colombian slang for “picking container.” It’s not radically different than many of the buckets already in use, but the improvements in ergonomics and comfort are what make Coco unique.

An indent at the bottom of the bucket mimics the angle of our legs when we walk, eliminating bruising. The waist strap is modeled after kidney belts–those girdle-like elastic bands that laborers wear around their lower backs to gird against strains during heavy lifting. (Ravassa even included a custom clasping system in hopes of encouraging farm owners to purchase straps and belts together.) And a “continuous handle” inspired by three-handle laundry baskets allows workers to grab the containers securely, cutting back on accidental drops.

A giant hat-tip to Ms. Ravassa for focusing on those who are too often overlooked. Now which generous coffee company will subsidize the first shipment of Cocos to Colombia?

Read the full article on FastCo Design.

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