Exhibition partner Q & A
method Glass for Good
To celebrate the launch of their limited edition cut-glass hand soap bottle, made from 100% post-consumer recycled glass, the Design Museum spoke to Sean McGreevy, Senior Director Industrial Design for method.
Glass for Good started as a ‘hunch’, an internal name for an early concept that needs incubation. I had been thinking about ways to reduce our impact on the planet and liked the idea of a durable, modern interpretation of our iconic tear drop hand wash. method has a culture of experimentation + exploration and this bottle was born from that freedom of creativity. The inspiration came from nature. I had watched a fascinating documentary about geodes and gemstones and learned how gems are cut to maximize light refrations. I began brainstorming ways to design bottles that refracted light, turning a static object into something a bit more dynamic.
The Glass for Good design process was different from the way we develop most of our products. It was a passion project that very few colleagues knew about until I shared out the ‘Hunch Report’ (an annual, design-led innovation report outlining new product + platform opportunities). I had developed a number of different designs that explored texture on our tear drop hand wash, all focused on creating a compelling enough refillable bottle to incentivize behavior change. I had built numerous clear prototypes that we could fill up with hand wash to simulate the experience. I continued refining the design and commissioned a high-end prototype to bring the product to full resolution prior to the Hunch Report share-out. The concept was well received, but the prototype stole the show.
Some of the bigger challenges when creating the Glass for Good bottle were in figuring out how to commercialize something so far outside of our core competency. Anytime you’re developing a product that requires a different material, a new supplier network or is sold through different sales channels, it can be challenging to resolve potential roadblocks. Glass for Good presented enormous challenges, but luckily I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds who were excited to be part of a team creating a breakthrough.
My grandfather, ‘Opa’ had a heavy influence on my childhood. He was a holocaust survivor that left his family and fled from the Nazis as a 12 year old boy. He was wildly creative, started multiple businesses, built his house and all of the furniture in it, with only a third grade education. He did everything he could to make sure all of his grandchildren had amazing childhoods, as his was stolen from him. I spent nearly every weekend with him learning about woodworking, powertools and how to design and develop product ideas. It was because of him that I wanted to become an inventor. When I started thinking about college, I would Google things like ‘professional inventor’ or ‘design engineer’. I happened to stumble across Industrial Design and couldn’t believe such a perfect major existed. I joined the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2001 and pursued an Industrial Design degree. My advice for people getting into the industry is to act upon your crazy ideas and avoid people that tell you it cannot be done.
The future presents a lot of challenges; from oceans filled with plastic, to water scarcity, climate change etc. Designers ignoring sustainability are not futureproofing their planet, nor their careers. In other words, every designer has a responsibility for the products they put into the world and the lifespan associated with those products. The future will be challenging, but it will continue to drive innovation and force humans to continue evolving.
The most compelling piece of sustainable design I have personally experienced is my new Tesla we recently purchased. Tesla has reinvented the driving experience and made it really easy to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only have they disrupted the auto industry with the fastest car on the road, but they’ve built a network of charging stations across the US, while reducing our reliance on fossil fuel. If Tesla is a sign of the times to come, count me in!
Consumers are willing to change behaviour if you offer them a better experience, which is why we focus on creating experiences worth adopting. Adoption is key when it comes to innovation. Stop focusing on trying to change the industry with lackluster products and experiences. Start focusing on deeply understanding your consumer’s wants + needs and create compelling propositions that consumers find irresistible – that’s the secret to behaviour change.
Buy the bottle
Launched in partnership with the Design Museum, method are delighted to be supporting the learning programme for their upcoming exhibition Waste Age. It explores how design can help usher in a new age where there is no such thing as waste and inspire the next generation of sustainable designers.