When industrial designers find untapped niches where their expertise is needed, dramatic impacts can be made.
For Barcelona-based industrial designer Juan Sanz, the untapped niche was disaster relief beds. Sanz learned that NGOs worldwide primarily use one of two designs: The Camp Bed or the Disc-o-Bed, which are priced at €50-100 (USD $53-$106) and €150-200 (USD $159-$212), respectively.
Those beds use metal and fabric. Sanz's ingenious Humanitaria Bed design is made out of cardboard, making it way cheaper at just €17 (USD $18).
This design is faster to produce. Sanz says any cardboard packaging factory can crank out up to 1,000 of these per hour; in contrast, producing 1,000 of the metal beds can take two weeks, and of course requires a suitable manufacturing facility.
This design is also easier to ship. 100 of the cardboard beds, which are of course shipped flat, can fit on a Euro pallet.
The design is absurdly easy to assemble. It takes a single person just seconds, vastly reducing the time required to set up a large facility.
And yes, the design is sturdy. The Humanitaria Bed can support 350kg (772 lbs), versus the 150kg-limit of the metal beds.
Sanz and business partner J. Alberto Paniagua set up a company, Humanitaria, to distribute the beds. NGOs can order them in lots of 100.