FixIts™ is the first product to come out of Chris Lefteri Design and marks an extension from the studio’s history as a materials design consultancy by bringing to life one of its founders first material discoveries.
FixIts™ is the world’s first compostable, hand-moldable plastic stick that softens in 60C water and thus can be used to solve an infinite number of challenges around the home or in creative projects. Fully re-usable, FixIts™ empowers consumers to do DIY on their own terms instead of overspending on single-use or niche equipment. It is the new kitchen drawer essential.
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Chris Lefteri, author of nine books on materials and design eponymous studio, has become well known for bringing about design innovation to global consumer brands through CMF and materials.
Alongside founder Alison Lefteri and co-founder former student Forrest Radford, Chris is launching FixIts™ – a product that can have a positive influence on the environment by focusing on fixing rather than disposing of products.
Chris discovered the material while researching his first book on plastics in 2000. It is a project that is close to the founders’ hearts, and one that is pertinent given our increasing need to deal with the consequences of plastic usage. FixIts™ brings to light a material that has a history of industrial applications to create a new opportunities for and by consumers.
“We need to come at the sustainability issue from a new angle. It’s no longer going to be about using guilt as an emotion to drive consumers to think twice about their carbon footprint, it’s about making recycling fun, desirable and driving an approach that means you want to do good rather than the traditional approach of thinking that you should do good.”
FixIts™ is made from a plastic that softens at a much lower temperature than conventional plastics and exploits the main property of thermoplastics which is that they can be repeatedly heated, cooled and heated again. Not only does this render FixIts™ reusable, but the plastic itself is also compostable in accordance with requirements for EN-14995.
After exploring around twenty different shapes that the material should be formed into, the studio settled on a simple stick. “We felt that with a totally new product, it would be hard to empower consumers with a product to fix problems they probably didn’t know they needed: we needed a shape that felt familiar, generic and simple. It also made total sense that as a form, a stick lent itself to be placed in a cup of hot water.”
“We spent a lot of time working on the details of the stick: the size, the weight, the bezels, etc. We even added icon instructions to the back of the stick so that they can be easily shared and understood by users who hadn’t interacted with the product before. The stick says everything it needs to; what it’s called, what it does, and how to do it.. Making a simple product, as we have learnt, isn’t that simple.”
“I have always loved discovering new materials and telling stories about a new way of looking at materials’. We have motto in the studio which we apply to all our consultancy projects based on defining the term ‘new materials’ under three headings: Use materials in new ways, use materials in new places and use materials in new places in new ways. FixIts™ evolved out of using an existing material in a new way. From the outset, the project was about creating a new story that was going to both inspire consumers to want to buy the product and at the same time make them feel they needed the product. I wanted consumers to feel like using it; fixing and making things was going to be fun as well as stopping you from throwing away broken products. I realized very early on that the brand had to be built around a communication story.”
The team worked closely with London-based branding agency Here Design to develop the branding. The project went through many iterations and name changes to get the simple message of the FixIts™ stick into a form that consumers would be able to instantly get and also want to buy into.
Mark Paton Creative Partner at Here Design comments: “My first thought was literally ‘Wow, what an interesting product – how does it work – how can we use that?’ We were also very aware that both the retail context and the household context for this product was visually cluttered, so our approach throughout has been to create a very simple bold brand and identity.
The brief to Here Design was to create a simple statement that referenced the optimism, simplicity and punchiness of 1950’s packaging at a time when plastics was the ‘new’ material that was going to change the world.
Mark explains how the “reference point was graphic Swiss poster design that incorporates bold typography and photographic imagery. We like how that approach allowed us to integrate the logo, product image and also explain scale and functionality of the product. The gift of being able to feature the product in the logo, is one that doesn’t often happen in design so we grabbed the opportunity with both hand. Pun fully intended.”
In the 1950’s, plastic was the future, it changed the way the world looked. It filled it with color and experimental forms; propelling designers to explore with their new found design freedom. Today it’s the total opposite, our inability to act on the environmental warnings of plastic waste is resulting in plastics being material enemy number one; but not all of them have to be.
“What FixIts™ does is give a positive story to plastics by becoming a simple product that sits in the kitchen drawer, pen pot, ruck-sack, etc; that can be used to fix simple solutions that would otherwise result in a broken product being thrown away. Plastics are not going to go away, we just need to be smarter in how we use them. Launching today, we’re hoping we’ll find our early adopters and pioneers on Kickstarter. We’re aiming to get 1000 packs of FixIts™ out through this campaign but we don’t want it to stop there. We’re hoping Kickstarter will help build the community that will allow FixIts™ to become a household emergency fixer.”
Check out FixIts™ on Kickstarter today!