SNOO Smart Sleeper Beazley Designs of the Year| Product Nominee
Q&A with Yves Behar
In this collection of interviews, some of this year's Beazley Designs of the Year nominees share their design stories, challenges and aspirations.
What makes good design in your opinion?
Good design accelerates the adoption of new ideas that have the aim to better our lives and the world.
What three words would you use to describe your project?
'Life-changing technology' - that doesn't look or feel like tech. Providing more sleep for the baby, and in turn for the parent, is a true gift at a time when the health risks due to a lack of sleep have dire consequences.
What was the first conversation you had with your team, which brought about the inception of your design?
Dr. Harvey Karp and I worked on SNOO for more that 5 years, and our aim is to roboticize his most popular and most used technique of the 5 S, the standard methodology to calm a crying baby to sleep. Our initial conversations were based around how we could perfect the technique through technology, and replicate it for every baby in every household. More importantly, we needed to find a way to make this technology beautiful and accessible and the safest baby bassinet on the market at the same time.
Take us through your thought process and design thinking for this project?
An incredible amount of detailed consideration went into making such a minimalist, beautiful object that at the same time is highly technologically and mechanically complex. The design exercise was about perfecting and amplifying the 5 S technique, and making it seamless for the parent. The height of the SNOO is designed for a mother or father to easily access the baby without bending too far, and for parents to be able to see the baby from their bed. A firm outer layer of mesh holds its form, while a flexible inner layer moves with the organic cotton mattress when the SNOO applies a swinging motion to ensure the baby is always surrounded by a soft and safe enclosure. The custom-designed swaddle holds the baby perfectly on his or her back, while keeping the head free to move with the mattress; the bassinet won’t turn on unless the swaddle is properly locked in. Beautiful minimal detailing like the hairpin legs, wood and fabric make this robot look like a beautiful addition to the home, with all of the technology hidden underneath the mattress. Even the sensors and microphones to hear the baby’s cries are hidden in between the mesh layers. Most importantly, the device works with the push of a button – one single button allows SNOO to sense the baby’s exact movement and voice, and to respond perfectly with the adequate white noise and movement to rock the baby to sleep.
How did the subject matter influence your design approach?
As a father of four children, I am extremely familiar with the repercussions that come with having a newborn; the lack of sleep affects your ability to parent and is a huge factor in postpartum depression with medical and relational implications. And, of course, there is the stress of making sure the baby is sleeping in the right patterns, and staying on their back (which prevents SIDS). The combined experiences of me raising four children, and Dr. Karp having dedicated his life to promoting healthy sleep, instructed every part of the design. With the success of SNOO, and its availability through a $5 a night rental program, SNOO has already changed the lives of many parents and their babies.
Who has inspired your design career?
My role models are Ray and Charles Eames, as well as Bruno Munari. Both of them have showed me ways of how to be a both a thinker and maker, and I am always in awe about the infinite iterations that go into crafting that simplicity.
What obstacles did you face whilst working on your project?
In many ways, the technology itself was being created and defined as we worked through the design process; this meant we had to collaborate closely with engineering teams, often guiding them with the design, and often changing the design itself based on how the technology developed over a period of five years. In addition there were numerous safety checks and regulatory factors to take into consideration when creating any product for babies. Ultimately all this work paid off - the American Academy of Paediatricians named SNOO the safest bed on the market and the only one that ensures that babies remain on their backs.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year?
Having my work nominated as Design of the Year is always an incredible honor. The works included are truly the best of the best... it feels amazing to be in such esteemed company.
What’s the one thing you’d like people to remember about your design when they leave the exhibition?
Lack of sleep is a real health issue, not the by-product of having a baby. SNOO is a truly remarkable solution, and the first of its kind; we have heard countless stories from new parents and received incredible reviews of SNOO truly improving lives and the experience of having a child. Personally, I am so proud of this work because, to put it simply, I truly believe this product needs to exist.
If you had one piece of advice to a young designer, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, firsts in design and technology are not for the faint of heart…but as a designer you are in the driving seat to accelerate change and make a real difference.
SNOO is the world’s first smart sleeper!
SNOO is the ONLY bassinet that keeps babies sleeping safely on the back, all night long.
SNOO’s responsive system replicates how a parent calms a baby, with increasing rocking and shushing to match the baby’s level of fussiness.
SNOO has a unique drivetrain designed for maximum performance (10 million cycles of continuous movement)!
SNOO calms most cries in under a minute, unless the baby is hungry or uncomfortable.
SNOO was made by a design dream team - top pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned industrial designer Yves Béhar and MIT-trained engineers.
SNOO’s advanced algorithms can distinguish crying from outside noise and determine the level of distress of a particular wail.
Several universities are studying SNOO’s effectiveness to treat PPD, calm NAS babies, reduce hospital bed sharing.