Interview with Paul Sandip of Differential Design

Paul Sandip is a great and very inspiring designer that makes beautiful, functional and still simple things. His designs are often very ecologically sound and inventive besides. He also won a Red Dot design award for re-inventing the pencil sharpener and his deconstruction of the obvious amazes me. His Yellow Clip is his newest design and I asked him about the Yellow Clip, his other award winning work and his design ideas. You can check out his blog here.

Joris Peels: Why did you design Yellow Clip?

Paul Sandip: Everyday products, they are so numerous and omnipresent as to be frequently taken for granted. I have been deeply intrigued by such objects lying all around us. The market is flooded with a plethora of redesigned products but very few re-defined objects.

To whatever modern life style we adapt to…the need for clothes peg would still be there…especially in India. It is one of the few rare objects whose integrity, practicality and sense of purpose has remained intact over the years. Although various superfluous exterior enhancing shapes and materials have been explored, none have an emerging brilliance of a perfect match of form and function.

But as we are moving towards more and more eco-concerned social structure…the need to think of green design has taken the front seat. The basic aim of my design was to create a single piece product with recycled plastic and no metal components.

Yellow Clip is an attempt to re-define the ubiquitous. I have worked on the soul of the product, questioning its very existence. Eventually the product acquired a new mind and a fresh body. ‘Yellow Clip’ is the manifestation of my imagination of a world with interesting artifacts…which not only look good but also have a definite function to perform. I call it – utilitarian design. you can see the Clip in action on video here.

What is so special about it?

Its primary innovation is the possibility of being hanged by both of its extremities.
Moreover, one needs to only slide this clip over the cloth, hung on the line, and does not require applying any pressure. The geometry of the Clip + the flexibility of the material allow it to do so. This attribute is of great help to the aged / arthritic people.
It leaves no rust marks on clothes, as there is no metal component.
The dual jaw design of this clip not only creates interest in it but also doubles up its life. If one jaw is damaged, the other jaw still remains functional.

Is it important that it can be injection molded from one piece?

Yes!

You won an INDEX award with your disposable mug…what was that like?

The very fact that Disposable Mug was one of the finalists at the INDEX: Award 2009, Denmark, is of great honor to me. The product is an answer to a genuine need, often felt but seldom spelt. It celebrates the fact that Indians prefer water to toilet paper to wash after defecation :)

Do you specialize in ecological design?
No, I specialize in nothing but in my approach towards design – to improve life!

What is differential thinking? Why is it important?

Differential Thinking is my own approach towards design – doing the right thing at the right place at the right time. It helps me analyze complex situations creatively leading to appropriate contextual innovations. I believe it is the most effective form of mental activity which if practiced, helps one reach the “desired destination”…on time.

Is it difficult to get your products produced?

Yes…It applies to most designers’ world wide who is trying to bring change in stereotypical notions about design and its impact on life.

Do you always think about production when designing? Or just functionality?

Unifying Form and Function drives most of my design projects.

You won a Red Dot Design award for a pencil sharpener. How?

Most existing pencil sharpeners are redesigned with unessential exterior enhancements. All I did was to play ‘Strip Tease’ with pencil sharpeners. ATE is again an attempt to re-define the obvious. I have worked on the soul of the product, questioning its very existence. It paves a path towards the very thought of Voluntary Simplicity.

Why did you re-design the pencil sharpener? It seemed to be working fine?
ATE is all about voluntary simplicity. It is about wanting less. Peeling down to the heart of the existing sharpeners helped me reveal the essence of its basic working principal – the wrapped cone with a blade mounted onto the inner end, acting as a chiseling edge for the pencil inserted in it.
The design of ATE points towards two notions. One is the idea that the simplicity of the product form will bring a cheerful feeling to people, and the other is the lowering of the production cost. Both are achieved mainly by simplifying the construction of the sharpener.

You also designed slippers?


Yes I did. Shrink- Bathroom slippers that allow water to flow below them…and so you don’t slip on wet tiles! Ridges both on top and bottom surface…for your feet and floor!

You also draw cartoons, is this important to your design work?

I am a professional cartoonist too apart from being a story teller and an industrial sculptor.
Everyday products form the material framework of our existence, enabling it to function, not only in practical or utilitarian terms, but also in ways that give pleasure, meaning and significance to our lives. But why don’t we notice them? Most of us travel by the same route everyday, do similar tasks everyday, go to same places and although we are awake and seeing things around us we are not actually looking at them consciously. Hence, such products are frequently taken for granted. Design, to my understanding, is much about having an eye for such details and bringing back life to mundane objects. Just like a cartoonist brings humorous insights from day-to-day activities/incidents of life. I would like to emphasize on the act of “Observation” as a necessary tool to design useful products. Look…don’t see!

Is being Indian important to your design work? Or is that just me being stupid because I’m not sure I’d ask the same question to a Swedish person.

I was born in Kolkata, a city known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. It was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. People here tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a “city of furious creative energy”. For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the “cultural capital of India”. I inherited the art of story-telling from my grand parents here.

I was brought up in Bhubaneswar; a city with unique sculptural and architectural heritage, coupled with sanctity it is one of the five great religious centers of Orissa since early mediaeval days. I imbibed values of life and social concern from my teachers in school, where I spent ten years of my childhood.

I graduated as an electrical engineer from Nagpur, a city which contains a large number of people from other Indian states as well as people belonging to the world’s major faiths. It was here where I was introduced to a host of varied cultural events throughout my stay.

I was trained to be a designer at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, a city where every other person strives for perfection in whatever task they do.

It definitely helps to be a designer born in Indian soil, you get a chance to taste the varied spices of social life!

Paul is trying to get a sufficient number of his clothes line clips produced, you can help him out by pre-ordering them here. He is trying to get the Clip produced using Moq7. This is a service whereby people can pre-order a certain number of items. Once a threshold has been achieved, 10,000 in the case of the Clip, the product will go into series production using injection molding. The MOQ, in Moq7 refers to this number. In injection molding you have a Minimum Order Quantity whereby it makes sense for the customer of manufacturer to put a product into production. Since a mold can cost from $20,000 (super cheap) to $150,000 (more average) for one piece and pricing varies according to complexity and many other factors the MOQ can differ. So if enough people pre-order enough of Paul’s Clips’, the MOQ will be reached and the clip goes into mass production. Nifty, idea right?

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