It’s not a new problem – our kitchens are full of products that all require a home, they are getting smaller and our collection of ‘stuff’ is growing.
Over several years we have seen more and more products whose main selling point is that they are easy to store. Here is a good article which demonstrates the growing trend toward storage-focused kitchen appliances, primarily collapsing and folding designs.
This small revolution has been, in part, brought about a realisation that ease of storage has a crucial part to
play in consumers’ purchasing behavior. The old formula of price, specification and (dare I say) looks, as the main purchasing criteria is being re-examined. Companies have now accepted there must be a more considered approach to storage and, as such, ‘storability’ has emerged at the fore as a main selling point, rather than an additional ‘extra’. This is where ethnography needs to play a part in the design process so that we can design products that fulfill real-life issues. Only by observation can we fully understand the real situations in which these products are used and stored.
Only by using this approach can we look outside the current accepted methods of collapsing or folding to reduce the size of products. We will be able to tackle storage issues with an alternative and appropriate approach such as complimenting/ nesting products, using corners and walls more effectively or indeed using space that is currently unused.
Perhaps product design should take a leaf out of the Ikea book – utilising space in a surprising and effective way.