Presentation at Give & Take

Presentation at Give & Take.

Toaster, from Scratch

The Toaster Project: A design student’s fascinating project to make a toaster – starting with finding and processing small quantities of raw materials.The project took him all over the UK searching for raw minerals, and developing methods to process them at home.

His whole process was about re-creating the background story. I’d love to see a graphic outlining all of his steps.

the final toaster (photo Daniel Alexander)

the final toaster (photo Daniel Alexander)

The project is featured on

GoodGuide coming to iPhones

Via a New York Times article, barcode-reader iPhone apps will put product info in consumers hands at point-of-sale.

GoodGuide is already a beta database of info on products will help consumers know what is in the products they consider purchasing.

A Goodguide app on iPhone will let consumers access info via barcode.

A GoodGuide app on iPhone will let consumers access info via barcode. Image Credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

The service reduces lots of complex info into a single number (the higher the number, the better the product overall). Though the purpose of the system is to create transparency on products, such a single-number approach lacks transparency. Consumers also need education on what’s behind the number. A more visual approach incorporating icons to reference each product’s background story could help.

Thanks Craig!

Disclosing Dish Soap

Seventh Generation’s liquid dish soap bottles are sporting an in-depth ingredient label – under the existing label.

Dish soap ingredient information label

Dish soap ingredient information label

The peel-away outer back-panel gives a text-heavy overview of the company’s safety criteria and commitment to transparency. Inside, an extended eco-label takes the first steps toward integrating statistics: Minimally illustrated with a home icon, the statement reads that ‘if every household in the U.S. replaced petroleum-based dish soap with plant-based… we would save 86,000 barrels of oil (the equivalent to heat and cool 4,900 U.S. homes per year).

Its nice to see a comparison that puts so many barrels of oil into a meaningful perspective for the purchaser.

Stats and info revealed on Dish liquid bottle

Stats and info revealed on Dish liquid label

The peel-away label allows for 2 additional panels for the consumer to transparently uncover information, but the space could have been used even more effectively: I’d love to see a more life-cycle oriented approach applied to this design format, and the icons used to highlight information, rather than to advertise the company’s other product offerings.