True industrial design seeks out problems that can be solved with objects. The more common the problem, and the easier it is to produce the item you've designed to solve it, the more successful you'll be. And the Holy Grail, of course, is to find that common problem that no one's solved yet.
So here's a great example of a simple, monomaterial product design that's become a tremendous business success by addressing an unmet need in the kitchen. When it comes to storing food, we've got Ziploc bags, Tupperware, plastic wraps and aluminum foils, which are good at storing most things. But what they're lousy at preserving is a fruit or vegetable that's been cut in half; you've undoubtedly thrown away half of something because you couldn't use it all up in time.
Enter Food Huggers, which are nothing more than little silicone discs molded with a lip and an undercut.
By making them in four sizes—which nest for storage, by the way—industrial designers Michelle Ivankovic and marketer Adrienne McNicholas have covered all of the bases, whether you're looking to save a small or large chunk of fruit or vegetable.
Silicone was a perfect materials choice. It's flexible enough to adapt to irregular shapes:
The material also seals in strong scents, so onions and the like don't contaminate its neighbors:
In side-by-side comparisons, Food Huggers do a better job of preserving than plastic does:
They can also be used to seal cans:
And they even designed two sizes of avocado-shaped model:
Last year Ivankovic and McNicholas sought to have Food Huggers Kickstarted, seeking a modest $26,000. Demand was higher than anticipated—they netted $183,497! The duo are now selling Food Huggers on its own website, and the next step is store shelves: They've signed a deal with Lifetime Brands, making them stablemates with the likes of KitchenAid, Farberware and Savora. Nice work, ladies!