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Using Clever Product Design To Battle The Coronavirus

Designers come up with innovative ways to tackle the pandemic.

Around the world, designers are not sitting still when it comes to battling the coronavirus pandemic. They may not be healthcare experts, but that is not stopping them from working together with medical professionals to find solutions, or even coming up with innovative creations of their own.

Yong Jie Yu, founder of local multidisciplinary innovation agency, Stuck Design, says “smart design and innovation have a big role in the fight against Covid-19.”

Earlier in the year, Stuck Design put out an open call to collaborate with healthcare workers. They have since designed six products that aid in the battle with coronavirus. Most are not yet in production, “but by openly sharing these projects, we hope to make them available for those who need it,” says co-founder Donn Koh.

It is also inviting healthcare workers who see an urgent need for an innovation to reach out to them, so they can help with prototyping, sourcing and developing, to turn an idea into reality.

In China, a group of designers launched Create Cures, a public initiative that showcases products that provide public health solutions. Its founder Frank Chou says, “Even when the coronavirus is eliminated, there will still be challenges facing public health. As designers, we ask ourselves, what can we do, how can we contribute.”

While most items that designers around the world have created are still in their conceptual stages, some firms have released blueprints online, so their products can be made by anyone.

This article first appeared in The Business Times.


Sterilising Lamp by Frank Chou
Chinese designer Frank Chou’s Sterilising Lamp looks like a conventional table lamp but it does more than illuminate a space. The light comes with a built-in UV lamp, and a tray at the bottom. Items are placed on the tray, and the light is pushed down to start the sterilisation process. When done, the lamp lifts automatically, and clean items can be taken out. Chou believes that by incorporating sanitising properties into an everyday product, people will remember to use it more often. C’entro by SBGA Blengini Ghirardelli
Even as cities around the world start to lift their lockdown restrictions, social distancing will still be in place. But how do you tell someone to keep their distance, without having to tell it to their face? Italian design firm SBGA Blengini developed C’entro, a pack of lightweight colourful fibreglass rods that can be connected to form a 2m wide circle. The idea is to place these circles on the ground or floor. A 1.5m long rod connects to each circle and serves as an indication of how far each circle should be from the next. Disinfectant Gloves by Chen Furong
If you’ve been consistently washing your hands, especially after sanitising an object, Chinese designer Chen Furong has a more efficient solution. The founder of Wuu design firm created disinfectant gloves that look like plastic disposable ones but are made of three layers of thin fibre paper. The outermost layer is coated with 75 per cent alcohol which helps kill germs, while the hand is still protected on the inside. Slip one on, wipe, and dispose, without the need to wash your hands a second time – a convenient and environmentally-friendly option. Elbow Sock by Raw Color
The advice to sneeze or cough into our elbows to avoid spreading germs prompted Dutch design firm Raw Color to design the Elbow Sock – a handkerchief for the elbow that anyone can make. Find a sock that is missing its other half, cut the toes off and slide the sock over your elbow. Sneeze or cough into it when needed, and throw it into the wash after that. Raw Color also believes that wearing an Elbow Sock could be seen as a statement to raise awareness about not spreading germs. Exprask by Zhang Junjie
Wearing a mask reduces the transmission of viruses and germs, but it also hides facial expressions. Zhang Junjie, founder of Sozen Design Group, imagines his transparent mask Exprask to do its job while letting users show their faces. It would be made of medical grade thermoplastic rubber with two breathable holes by the side. “Hopefully the Exprask will be able to keep people safe, and being able to see smiles on faces will help people forget the stress and tension caused by a global infection,” he says.