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Achieving Excellence Through Design

Thursday, December 9, 2010 6:56 pm EST

The Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA) Design of the Decade Awards are some of the most coveted and sought after awards in the design industry. These awards celebrate products that have made a positive contribution to society and business over a given period of time.

We are proud to say that two our leading products have won this prestigious honor – Swiffer® WetJet® and Venus® razor.

Swiffer® WetJet® – Design Thinking's Contribution to Business - Silver Award

The journey of Swiffer® began in 1994 when design anthropologists were inspired to improve how consumers cleaned floors within their homes. The designers observed the routine cleaning habits of consumers who were spending a significant amount of time using multiple systems to get the job done. As a result, unmet needs in the cleaning category were defined, and the idea for a smarter way to clean was born.

The designers made some important observations. They noticed that people usually swept before they mopped, that they spent an inordinate amount of time rinsing, and that it was overall a dirty job. Out of this design research came the idea for an absorbent pad on a stick coupled with a detergent delivery system. After working with several agencies to create experimental models and qualify the idea, a prototype was exposed to consumers who loved the way it really worked. The combination of the familiar purpose of the product and the novelty of an easy to use, effective implement created a new category and helped changed the industry.

In 1999, the original Swiffer® sweeper made its debut as the first sweeper to use a disposable, electrostatic cloth and soon established itself as both a pioneer in the cleaning systems category and a pop culture icon. The Swiffer® WetJet® continued the brand innovation and demonstrated that we could build on a consumer idea rather than just a new technology and promote a consumer experience rather than just product usage.

Venus® - Most Profitable Solution to a Business Problem - Gold Award

Gillette razors had a heritage of being the "best a man could get" when it came to shaving. Safety razors had been developed with a man's face in mind, but what about women? Most razors for women were just a man's razor colored pink. Gillette realized that shaving for women posed a number of unique challenges. Women shave various parts of their body that have curves and are hard to reach. In addition, women often shave standing up in the shower. The wet environment of the shower poses its own challenges to efficacy and hygiene of the blade. And, finally, the majority of women shaved with disposable razors which meant a significant amount of waste going into landfills.

Our Gillette design team came up with innovative solutions to solve these challenges starting with an ergonomic handle and cartridge shape. The rubber textured handle was easy to grip whether right or left handed and improves visibility, control and safety. The oval cartridge shape and soft elastomer pad made it easier to shave hard to reach areas. Individually sealed blade cartridges and a convenient shower storage system solved the problems associated with the wet shower environment. And the reusable handle is more environmentally friendly as it is durable and designed to last multiple years

Venus® was the first wet-shaving product completely designed for women, and was an entirely new breakthrough concept. It is one of the rare products that actually improves the experience of one of life's never ending chores- Shaving.

The winners of the IDSA Design of the Decade Awards will go into the permanent collection of the Henry Ford Museum and be part of the on-going efforts to tell the story of American Innovation and the important role that Industrial Design is playing in that story.