Q&A with Core77 design winner: Bamboo Load Carrier

Ben Kaufman’s company, Quirky, is all about finding great ideas from regular people and turning them into real, marketable products, and Core77 is all about covering the best and latest in design and technology. Throughout the Quirky series, we’ll be bringing you stories from designers, inventors and entrepreneurs who’ve either already brought their product from concept to completion or are right in the middle of that process – and all without the help of a company like Ben’s.

Today we bring you the story of the Bamboo Load Carrier, winner of the Core77 Design Award for Products/Equipment. Designed by Vikram Dinubhai and Panchal-Nid.

Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited, and why?

The practice of carrying heavy load on the head and on the back for transportation of goods is still used in India and many other developing countries. Generally, lighter loads are carried on the head, heavier loads on the back and much heavier loads are pulled or pushed by trolley.
But heavy loads for short distances are carried on the head. The roads these workers have to travel are typically uneven, rough or slushy.
Though head and back load-carrying are energy efficient methods of transportation, it has adverse effect on musculature and the spine. In back load-carrying, the problem is with the positioning and weight on the arm,  hence a need for a “one design solution” for all three kinds of load-carrying methods with a cost effective, easy to use, lightweight assistive device.

What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?

I wanted to improve under-privileged human life and health with one design solution.
The next possibilities of this design principle are a change of materials, like using metal and plastic, as well as appropriate detailing, components, production process etc. to facilitate various other uses in day-to-day life like camping and baby carrying.

When designing this project, whose interested did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audience, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc.)

This device is intended to reduce the load on the spine, provide good hand grip and make pulling and pushing the load easier. It has to be simple, durable, lightweight and cost effective. The principal object is to facilitate three methods of lifting and shifting the loads: above the head, at the back and push or pull action. The new device’s main structures are made from cane materials, plastic and metal components. It’s possible to make the entire structure in plastic or metal.
The new design has two major parts, one that holds the load and the other that rests on the shoulder. There are two knobs, which changes the functionality from head to back to push or pull. Ergonomically, the load is distributed on the shoulders and at the lumbar with soft material. The total weight of device is 2 kg and would cost approximately 300 rupees ($6.70) in mass production.

Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc.)

Since this was a self-initiated project, the research, ethnography, subject matter experts etc. were relevant and time bound. The first prototyping and detailing was carried out to ensure the functions and comfort to the user with available sources at the National Institute of Design in India.

What is the social value of your design?

Considering the working environment, durability, cost etc. this product is designed to be made from cane material. Due to its simplicity, it can be manufactured by local craftsmen of any region in India and abroad. The product design contributes to the improvement of the quality of life and health of Indian citizens and has capacity to influence the quality of life in countries where materials are handled by human beings.

If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?

I would use materials like metal and plastic to facilitate for various other uses in day-to-day life, like camping and baby carrying.

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