Yves Béhar and entrepreneur Assaf Wand are pleased to announce a new venture called Sabi, a forthcoming line of "lifestyle and wellness products designed to transform life's small tasks into moments of joy." The first collection of products captures the essence of this design philosophy: "Vitality" is a line of accessories for medication and pill management.
Inspiration to create Sabi first struck Wand when his wife, then pregnant with their first son, went shopping for a case for her prenatal vitamins and supplements, and couldn't find anything on the market that was both easy to use and aesthetically appealing. Wand realized there was a need not just for a more attractive way to store pills, but a more organized way to keep vitamins and medications on hand.
Wand turned to the Swiss-born, San Francisco-based designer to turn his vision into a thoughtfully-designed reality: "to create products that infuse the tasks and rituals of daily life with a sense of delight, while also inspiring users to appreciate life's little moments." Béhar, in turn, recognized the need and the challenges immediately:
As a designer and entrepreneur, I have long had a simple question no one has been able to answer: why is there no functional brand that speaks to the boomers while taking care of their everyday needs? With such a large demographic of people in their 60's and older, it is not only a missed business opportunity, but also an insult that products with low quality and lesser design are still the norm.
Thus, the principle of Universal Design—"the actual executions needed to assess all users needs throughout the design process, especially populations that have special needs"—was the starting point for Béhar and his team at fuseproject. From there, they determined that the "line of products—from weeklong pill storage to convenient on the go solutions—cover wide ranging needs, instead of just a singular solutions."
The initial offering is just the tip of the iceberg (or is that cap of the bottle?) in terms of Sabi's scope: fuseproject will ultimately extend the brand to encompass everything from shower caddies to juice decanters in future collections in the household and travel categories: "Agility, a line of products that alleviate the pain and inconvenience of lifting, reaching, and carrying everyday items around the house, as well as Mobility, a line of travel accessories and gadgets that assist in transporting health and wellness essentials... will be introduced in late 2012."
As for the name itself? Sabi refers to "an ancient Japanese philosophy that exalts everyday life." Thus, Béhar notes that the underlying notion of enduring quality will ultimately find an audience across all demographics: "The detailed design is beautiful and poetic while increasing the functionality. I believe Sabi will make sense to an older generation in need of solutions, but also to a younger set of users that simply expect good design everywhere."
We had a quick chat with Béhar:
Core77: As far as the backstory of Sabi goes, it sounds like you set out to strike a balance between standing out and remaining discreet—in other words, these are items that are deeply personal. How did you approach this challenge?
It was our approach for the product to stand out for it's positive design impact, it simply looks attractive and part of the everyday ritual. The accentuated ergonomics is what we wanted to be discreet about, as not not signal of a problem or point at a user need. Instead we wanted to integrate the ergonomic need into the form and expression of the Sabi line.The innovation and aesthetic beauty infused in each design makes Sabi products stand out among others of its kind. The designs combine improved functionality with expressive forms that have ergonomic features: the fluting permits easier grip or palming, while the nature inspired texture brings additional tactility. The aqua accent color visually outlines areas of interactions by indicating how to use the product and where to apply pressure or grip. The result is that while being highly functional, the Sabi products are more reminiscent of a lifestyle than one born from need. These products are not designed to be hidden in bathroom drawers or bedside tables, but used and displayed proudly.
You've identified the stigma attached to medication, but conversely, the notion of the 'ritual' might be seen as a positive daily routine. Did this factor into the design, in the interest of aiming to elevate day-to-day activities (not to mention ancient Japanese philosophy as a source of inspiration)?
This was definitely a very big factor in our approach and informed every part of the product, packaging and brand: Sabi helps keep people mindful of their daily rituals, such as taking pills and vitamins, but it does not make these the focal point of their day. Because the products are not reminiscent of hospitals or nursing homes, the stigma around such needs is reduced.
Is there a fundamental difference between graphic design (i.e. conveying information such as dosage, date, etc.) and product design, per the design philosophy behind Sabi, in terms of redesigning personal healthcare products?
In my opinion, the is no fundamental difference between information on a label or the design of the vessel. To me this is a holistic design effort—same strategy for packaging, product, web, brand.
The products, their names, and the packaging is about "magical moments"—how the whimsical noises and touch points create a more animated experience than just reading about dosages, or instructional graphics.
Where the Jawbone UP points to the future of personal wellness, Sabi is a new take on existing behavior. What plans does Fuseproject have to bridge these two paradigms?
I do think there is a bridge forming between wellness, and health. There is no doubt in my mind that supporting existing behavior AND encouraging wellness, is the right design approach. It's where I would like both UP and Sabi to go... time will tell which of these industries gets there first: the existing players, the newcomers, or the giant pharma industry... my guess is that collaborations between these entities will make it happen first.
With Sabi, you've clearly identified that there is a need to elevate otherwise utilitarian products: is this a symptom of the digital age, in which certain tasks—i.e. taking medication, taking out the trash etc.—cannot yet be automated by technology?
In the case of taking medication, I have a sense that this is a decision one makes every day. While some automation might help persistency, at the same time we have to balance personal choice. I do see technology taking a large role in diagnosis and prevention, which will be a revolution as big as the Hippocratic Oath.
The "Vitality" collection is available now at Sabi.com.