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The (Milk Carton) Studio Sessions – Design Quandry

Published: October 11, 2017

By Rhonda Beckman

I want you to put your imaginative cap on for a moment and walk through a visual with me. Are you ready? Ok, picture a snow cone. You know the kind that you would get as a kid that had the sweet, slushy ice in it? Picture that. Remember how hard it was to get the ice from the bottom of the cone and you had to squeeze it out or tilt it upside down and it would splosh onto your face? Imagine that you had a pair of scissors and you could cut a hole out of the bottom so the rest of the ice easily slid into your waiting mouth. Now switch your thought from the content being a slushy and turn it into cream; hand cream to be precise. We don’t necessarily want to eat this now, but we certainly want to get every last drop of cream out of the cone because well, we like that hand cream, and we paid for that cream and it’s a good quality product.

The problem though, is that my favourite hand cream is not made with that type of cone-design in mind. Instead, it is a flat bottomed container with a pump for a lid so that you slowly draw the cream into your hand. We all know that the tube attached to the pump never reaches the bottom of the container. We also know that this cream is thick and does not eventually slide its way over to the bottom of the tube to be lifted up into our waiting hands. So, we frustratingly take the pump lid off, and whack the heck out of the container so that we can get every last drop. Or we allow gravity to take over and keep the container upside down, so that the remainder of the cream slides into another container that is more accessible. We all resort to some kind of tactic to receive all of the product that we should receive. Everyone in the world knows that this is the worst design possible but companies continue to make their product containers this way. Why do you think that is?

I think it is because we are such a mass consumer society that we don’t care to think of things like the efficiency of a bottle. We simply throw it out when it becomes too inconvenient and buy another one because after all, we like the product, we just don’t like how it is presented. But perhaps if we weren’t so easy, or lazy, and took the time to contact companies and say, “Hey! What’s going on with your crappy design department?” then changes would be made. Of course a company is not going to make changes to pay for a designer to overhaul their containers because that would mean that they have to re-brand their product and that takes time and persuasion of the masses. It’s also a lot easier to create a flat bottomed container that can easily sit in a box for packaging purposes. Plus, the less plastic they have to use to create the container, the more economically efficient it is. But with a little bit of out of the box thinking, they could actually eliminate the pump all together, turn the bottle upside down to create the snow-cone effect, and then use the money saved on not having to buy a pump and instead create a flat bottom that surrounds the cone. This isn’t rocket science, folks. It’s just taking advantage of gravity and the bottle neck effect to give a consumer every last drop of a product they like.

What does that make me do as a consumer? I contacted the company. I have yet to get a reply. I mean nothing to them when they make billions. Will I buy their product again? Nope. I will start buying products from companies that consider the consumer in all aspects, to the quality of the product and the way the product is presented for full and complete consumption. If we don’t make the big wigs accountable, we are going to be wading in a sea of half-used cream containers and I for one do not want to leave that as a legacy for my child and future grandchildren.

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