Product Designer
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Aubergine Pillow

Inflatable pillow that plumps up generously in one puff.

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Aubergine Pillow

  • Role: Co-founder in a 3 person team wearing the hats of User researcher, Product designer, Brand developer & Business operations role
  • Duration: 4 months
Design how everyday naps could be more comfortable

Introduction

In recent years, napping has become increasingly popular. Research has pointed out its productivity and health benefits and companies are jumping in to encourage naps in the workplace. The negative stigma long associated with napping is slowly being redefined, and society is now more open than ever to casual naps, even in public spaces.

As designers ourselves, we often find ourself pulling all-nighters at the studio. This was also a problem space that we were motivated to work on not just for today’s society, but also for ourselves.


The Discovery

Our team spent two weeks observing where and how people take casual naps.

  Bad posture is everywhere

Bad posture is everywhere

Without a dedicated space to lie down, nappers resort to dozing off while seated — from subways to office desks. As observed, this can leads to bad posture because of the lack of proper head support.

Users take naps to recharge themselves,
but today’s naps are instead filled with
neck and back pains.

Competitor Analysis

To prevent these pain points, users have an abundance of options in the extremely crowded travel pillow market. We read through uncountable Amazon reviews and conducted usability testing with selected models.

We found that users deemed comfort as number one priority. They define a comfortable pillow to be one that has good support, employs soft material and is compatible with multiple sleeping positions. 

We then mapped the Competitive landscape according to level of comfort

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However, we realised that users were only using these pillows when travelling on long-distance plane flights or train rides, and not in everyday situations.

Our biggest competition was instead — nothing. Users couldn’t find a pillow that was good enough for everyday casual naps and ended up not using any.

Deeper Insights

We interviewed more of these casual nappers to uncover what the perfect pillow meant.

  • Convenience is king. Some users utilise objects already on them (sweater, laptop sleeve, backpack) as substitutes. Users expect a pillow that is portable enough to be brought along with their everyday carry.
  • Convenience and comfort need to go together. These two features are typically mutually exclusive, with the exception of inflatable pillows. However, inflatables bring additional problems such as slow inflation, dirty mouth valves, and squeaky noises. Users expect the convenience and comfort of an inflatable pillow, without the negatives.
  • Nothing screams “tourist” like a travel pillow. They stick out like a sore thumb with their odd shaped bulk and eye-catching colours. Users expect an lifestyle product that blends with their aspirations.
How might we design a pillow that is comfortable, convenient and aspirational?

Introducing Aubergine Pillow

  Aubergine Pillow is an inflatable pillow that plumps up generously in one puff, yet compacts small enough to bring comfort along on everyday adventures.

Aubergine Pillow is an inflatable pillow that plumps up generously in one puff, yet compacts small enough to bring comfort along on everyday adventures.

  It takes one puff to inflate with a spout that employs the Bernoulli Effect. This maximises air intake, allowing the pillow to inflate in just a single breath.

It takes one puff to inflate with a spout that employs the Bernoulli Effect. This maximises air intake, allowing the pillow to inflate in just a single breath.

  Dirty mouth valves are gone as the pillow inflates most efficiently when blown 2 inches away from the valve, preventing any contact or residue of stale saliva.

Dirty mouth valves are gone as the pillow inflates most efficiently when blown 2 inches away from the valve, preventing any contact or residue of stale saliva.

  It deflates fast, rolls snug and compacts small. The strap performs double duty of closing the spout and packing the pillow.

It deflates fast, rolls snug and compacts small. The strap performs double duty of closing the spout and packing the pillow.


Evaluation

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On 1st of November 2016, we launched the Aubergine Pillow on Kickstarter. In less than 4 hours, the project was fully funded. One month later, the campaign ended, reaching 450% of its funding goal with 486 orders.

Aubergine Pillow has been featured on Design Taxi, Core77, Asia One and 23 other media outlets. The launch video has since gone viral with more than 10 million views and 50k shares.

The Aubergine Pillow was also exhibited at Singapore Design Week Design Future/Now 2017 and NUS DID Show 2017.


Design Process

1. How might we design a pillow that is comfortable, convenient and aspirational?

We quickly translated our ideas into experiencable prototypes for discussion. With each iteration, we quickly gathered feedback fast and cheap by conducting usability testing with casual nappers.

 Exploration of ways to inflate

Exploration of ways to inflate

 Explorations of napping postures

Explorations of napping postures

 Explorations of shapes

Explorations of shapes

 Iterations of dimple

Iterations of dimple

2. How might we ensure that it is feasible for mass manufacturing?

The materials and manufacturing processes were chosen by working extensively with our overseas supplier. We not only wanted to ensure that it is feasible, but that it is also affordable without compromising on user experience or product quality.

 Iterations of materials

Iterations of materials

 Optimising the assembly line

Optimising the assembly line

3. How might we create an iconic brand identity?

We explored a wide range of concepts across multiple touchpoints such as logo, video script and tone of voice. The goal was to create a memorable branding that stood out in a crowded Kickstarter market, while refined enough to establish trust as a first-time creator.

 Explorations of logo

Explorations of logo