Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
The morepeas silicone tableware for kids is a modular set of cups, bowls, and lids constructed entirely of food-safe silicone with a patented snap-together design. The dishes and lids are microwavable, freezable, oven-safe, and won't break or come apart when dropped. In addition, all the pieces can be stacked for easy on-the-go travel or storage. The set consists of an 8oz cup, a 4 oz bowl, and three lids. Inside each cup and bowl are volume markings to aid portion control, baking, or cooking in the dishes. The set comes in fun, bright colors that kids and parents love.
Each lid serves a different function: suction lid, snack lid, and sippy lid. The suction cup lid keeps food or beverages sealed inside when on top of the cup or bowl. When attached to the bottom of the cup or bowl and suctioned to a flat surface, it holds the container firmly in place and prevents unintended spills. The snack lid has three flexible panels to keep food in, allowing little fingers to grab a snack easily. This lid is also great for steaming food in the microwave and straining any excess liquid. There are two options on the Sippy lid for drinking. The lid has a soft sippy spout to drink from and includes a separate straw depending on the child's preference. The straw has a ring in the middle to prevent your little one from pulling it out. The morepeas silicone cup, bowl, and lids allow parents to enjoy their time with their kids as much as their kids enjoy their favorite snacks and food.
Alli and Jess, the founders of morepeas, are two working moms doing their best to raise happy, healthy kiddos. Since they met, they have been two peas in a pod, friends 'til the end, and (most of all) momrades-in-parenting.
Like many parents of small kids, they found outings sometimes to be stressful and unpredictable. They spent too much time cleaning and planning the next thing and couldn't enjoy the now things. They wanted more. More room for a change of plans. More food in a bowl or belly, instead of on the floor. And, most importantly, more time having fun!
One afternoon while surveying the "kid-friendly" chaos at a local restaurant, they began to brainstorm solutions to make everyday parenting more enjoyable. What started as a sketch on the back of a napkin became the collection you see today - designs inspired by real life. They wanted to help parents stress less, adventure more, and enjoy that glass of wine.
Alli's Brother in law introduced them to Adam at Jet Pack Industries, with who he had gone to school. With over two decades of experience designing consumer products, and having brought many housewares products to market, Adam guided morepeas through their initial product design cycle.
First, Adam had to understand morepeas's vision of a better eating experience for kids. Alli and Jess had a clear idea of what their product should do and the rough form but not how to make that vision a reality. So the first step in working with Adam was understanding what the product shouldn't do as much as what it should do. They had already compiled competitor products' pain points, which was an essential reference for Adam. Then, Adam, Alli, and Jess defined the design requirements and set achievable goals for function, aesthetics, and fun. Morepeas's solution centered on a modular system, lids with multiple functions, and a suction cup lid that would be a stable base for the cup and bowl.
Alli and Jess's values for Morepeas products were at the design's core. They wanted a material that was extremely safe and reliable for toddlers. Silicone was the perfect choice with an FDA Food Grade approval and a smooth feel. As parents, Alli and Jess experienced the all-to-often fun of cleaning a mess from a child tipping over their cup or dish, which inspired the suction cup lid. They also knew the frustration of having a variety of dishes and lids that did not fit together. They realized that a modular system would let them prepare snacks quicker and get out the door sooner. Adam guided them to distill these functional goals into a fun and approachable design language. Through sketches, design reviews, and CAD models, morepeas and Adam settled on a starting form and size.
From there, Adam prototyped using 3D printed master parts and silicone molds to create working cast parts out of soft and flexible materials. Designing for manufacturing in silicone made the prototyping phase especially challenging because you cannot test fit and function with a rigid 3D printed prototype. For example, no amount of CAD or rendering will tell you if fingers can grasp cheerios better through a snack lid that has three flaps or four. Or if the lid fits the cup or bowl properly and keeps liquids inside even when tipped over. Therefore, real-life testing was a critical part of the design process.
Two essential aspects of the design were extremely challenging to solve: the suction cup and the lid tightness. The suction cup needed to hold steadfastly to a table while a wild toddler pulled on it like they wanted to paint the floor with milk. At the same time, the lid had to strike a tricky balance. On the one hand, it had to be easy enough for a parent to open and close, but it also had to create a firm seal when closed to keep liquids sealed inside. This was a recurring issue during manufacturing.
When the product was ready, we got quotes from two vendors in China. Both had experience with silicone manufacturing and had comparable pricing. Morepeas selected one vendor, and the design process for manufacturing commenced. After a few calls with the vendor, we had a plan to make aluminum tooling to test some of the more challenging parts. Due to the design and requirement to have a lip and lock on the lids, we had deep draws and undercuts inside the part. These issues made removing the parts a slow process. Usually, on plastic parts, these forms would not even be moldable, but by design, these parts were to be made from silicone which allowed for unconventional molding. Adam worked as closely as possible with the vendor, but it was difficult with travel restricted due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the sample results were still poor after many tests and trials with the parts. The suction cup area kept tearing, and the surface finish quality was subpar. Eventually, Adam and morepeas lost confidence in the vendor's ability to make high-quality parts.
Alli and Jess made the tough decision to ask the other vendor that originally submitted a quote to try to mold the parts. This was a considerable risk for morepeas as they had already invested significant time and money in the first vendor. However, they were driven by their ethos to make the best quality product. The new vendor, Keen, had years of experience with silicone kids' products and was the ideal partner. Keen quickly produced high-quality sample parts. In addition, they utilized their experience and engineering skills to help refine the parts to be easier to manufacture. Even though this required small design changes to the parts, Adam was able to finesse blocky adjustments into purposeful surfaces without losing the approachability and fun factor of the designs.
While the production samples were of acceptable quality and function, Adam and morepeas continued to push for higher quality to create a superb user experience. Many minor mold adjustments were made to the attachment rings on the lids and dishes to make them easy to put on and take off but still be waterproof and stay together when dropped. To make sure the suction cup stuck well to non-porous surfaces, Adam worked on defining details down to the texture and finish on the suction surface.
As the tableware set neared mass production, Morepeas explored the final color palette. As is often the case, choosing colors was a difficult decision. To help aid their decision and quickly explore their options, Adam provided morepeas with various photo renderings. This exploration immensely helped narrow down the options. In addition, it saved morepeas from spending a lot of money on different color samples produced by the factory. Once morepeas did have color samples from Keen, Adam met with Alli and Jess to review the samples. After much debate and anxiety about color combinations, Alli and Jess chose a final color palette. Finally, the cups and bowls went into mass production. A few months later, the sippy cup lid also started production.
In October 2021, morepeas launched their tableware set on their website and have had an incredible response from their target audience. Positive raving reviews come in daily to their website. Their product was recently picked up by www.maisonette.com, a popular kids' product retail website. Adam feels honored to see Alli and Jess's product come to market and have such success.