Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
VODA's vision is to facilitate access to clean and safe drinking water by creating a water filter system that uses what you already have: your geographic location, your local water source, and your existing pitcher. The VODA system includes a refillable water funnel and filtration system with compostable filter media. VODA's filter system is geo-specific instead of providing a one-size-fits-all global solution. Other competitors in the market have plastic filters that must be discarded, but VODA allows users to reuse the filter cartridge and recycle the compostable material. Instead of encouraging consumers to buy more, we want people to exercise less excessive consumption. Being pitcher-agnostic, VODA also encourages people to use the containers they already have.
This was a joint project of three students from SVA's MFA in Products of Design program: Margarita Zueleta, Zekun Yang and Anne Keating.Together we collaborated on a project rethinking and redesigning the water filter system used on commercial water filter pitchers. We first started broadly thinking about water and bottled and filtered water. Had companies that made water filter pitchers manufactured a need for filtered water similar to that of bottled water? How did we feel about designing a product that filled a potentially dubious, possibly manufactured need?
We also looked at the current models of water filtration pitchers on the market. The more we looked, the more they looked the same and several features stood out — the non-recyclable plastic filter that promised a universal drinking water solution and the proprietary water pitcher. As we looked at what was currently on the market. it became clear to us that this product could be redesigned or at least reimagined.To be clear, there were places like Flint, Michigan and around the world as well as crises like hurricanes required filtering contaminated water before drinking. However, the water pitchers we were looking at would not be used in locales or situations like that. We were interested in why people were filtering water in places where the local water was safe to drink out of the tap.One of the first questions we asked ourselves and the people we interviewed who are all local to New York City was "Why do you filter your water? New York City has some of the cleanest drinking water." In fact, EPA records for the New York City water supply show no problems with drinking water since a single issue in 2012. The one consistent response we heard was concern over the lead pipes in older buildings. Water main breaks and stories of old 19th century water pipes being dug up and being replaced were also causes of concern as people doubted if their drinking water was still clean once it left the reservoir and made it to the tap in their New York City apartments. For a city with clean, drinkable water there was this local concern about water safety. This got us thinking that not all local water problems are the same and some may be less about outright problems with the water and be more triggered by hesitancy like that among New York City locals.Commercial water filter pitchers are ubiquitous. Brita, the company behind the leading current offering on the market, has achieved name recognition for its product to almost the same degree as Xerox became synonymous with photocopies. In a market space filled with Brita pitchers and Brita knock-offs, one thing became clear to us early on. The water pitcher filter market was following the same basic design that Brita had set forth — a dedicated, chunky pitcher with a non-recyclable, sealed filter canister filled with a carbon and coconut based filter medium that has to be thrown out and replaced every two months. Another issue that came up early on was three-fold. People didn't know what contaminants were present in their water, they weren't totally satisfied with their water pitcher filters and they didn't trust the one-size-fits-all filter cartridge effectively filtered their local water.To further narrow the problem, we looked at the water filtration market. Domestic water filtration systems make up a large percentage of the whole market. While there are inline solutions, we were interested in the domestic market for countertop water filtration pitchers.We decided to focus on redesigning the countertop water filter pitcher. Our goal with this project was to imagine a water filtration system that uses what you've got: your location, your local water sources, and your pitchers to give you access to safer, cleaner drinking water. The message we wanted to get across is that we care about facilitating access to clean and safe drinking water for your body and from your location.Our focus as a team was threefold: to separate the filter cartridge from the pitcher, to redesign the filter so that the active component was compostable and the carrier could be opened easily to replace the filter medium, and to create a model of offering compostable filter medium cartridges that were compounded for local water solutions (a "filter for your zip code" model).We began by taking apart a commercial water filter cartridge to see what was inside. We then sketched — using a collection of step drills for inspiration. A quick "back of the envelope sketch" of an inverted shape for the funnel and filter became the visual language for this project. We found that the challenge was in designing a funnel that would hold the filter cartridge firmly and fit on standard sized water pitcher or wide bodied jars like mason jars without tipping over. The cartridge holder had to unscrew so the filter medium could be replaced every two months or as needed. All had to be done in a way that did not create breeding ground for mold and bacteria.Voda, our solution, provides a sustainable and regenerative solution to local water quality concerns. The key to this is the refillable filter cartridge housing and compostable filter media. People can reuse the filter cartridge housing instead of throwing it away.Voda breaks the proprietary integrated filter cartridge and pitcher model prevalent on the market today. With the Voda system, you can use any water pitcher you have.
Voda is trustworthy because instead of providing a one size fits all solution, Voda's filter system is geo specific. While the system is made of food safe plastic it is built to last.Here are Voda's key features. The Voda system provides a zip code based personalized water quality solution. The filter medium is compounded by location and based entirely on the water quality of that location. We run an online subscription refill mode that sends people filter medium refills. The funnel and filter cartridge fit any water pitcher and can be removed when not in use.Our target demographic are people 25-35 years old. Our customer base cares about having a healthy lifestyle and are active on social media sites like instagram. They also do most of their shopping online and buy direct-to-consumer online products. To reach this target audience, we decided to sell the Voda system fully online. Our main marketing channel will be Instagram. Voda is a sustainable solution to their water quality trustworthy solution as it not a one for all solution but a geo specific solution.The name, logo, color palette, the Instagram story, product photographs and packaging followed our visual language as closely as possible. Even the name of the product — Voda -- was a reflection first of the visual design of the product. We chose "Voda" as well as it is Slavic word for "water" with roots going back to the 2nd millennium B.C.E. — as the name for our company and brand. It's not surprising for such an essential part of life, that words for water have ancient roots.It's our hope that while this current version of Voda is a solution to a design challenge, that the underlying challenge of thinking about a sustainable, local model for water filtration is an intriguing idea worthy of further exploration.