I came across this poster while at the library one day and was curious. How ubiquitous an object for a design project! What an interesting challenge it would be to design for something so commonplace and ‘normal’ that sometimes it’s almost ‘invisible’ in our everyday lives.
Though having said that, the “brown bag” is an almost blank slate which has a lot of room for a designer’s input in terms of form and function. There’s some striking similarity I can draw between the design of a brown bag, and the design philosophy in an inspiring design book I read recently called Super Normal. It’s frankly quite refreshing to read about how the designers Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison are aiming to bring design back to the roots of “improving” the “man-made environment” and deepening the simple and beautiful (“normal”) relationships certain commonplace objects have with us in our everyday lives:
“As designers we can aim at achieving the Super Normal by being less concerned with visual aspects of an objects character, by attempting to anticipate the objects likely impact on the atmosphere and how it will be to live with… perhaps the continuation of a good relationship that has been around for a long time is better than anticipating something new. I think maybe the moment this hits us is what Super Normal means. “
So already there’s a lot of food for thought for this design challenge. I’m also excited at the prospect of applying some of the techniques and methods I had learnt about design thinking – the ethnographic study and deep empathy for the user, rapid prototyping, cross-fertilisation of ideas with seemingly non-related industries, synergistic collaboration between engineers, designers, users, manufacturers, etc etc… Though without the benefit of a “hot team”, I can already envision roping in friends as a dynamically-knitted team collaborating through Facebook and over dinners. What fun! I’m truly excited now!
Other design criteria outlined by NLB included physical specifications of 20cm x 30cm (which is about A4-sized), and most interestingly, that the bag has to encourage users to return the bag after use. That would add on a extra tasty texture to the design challenge!
Can’t wait to get started!