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Target is a great design innovator.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 25, 2005

There are a handful of companies that really get design—Nike, Starbucks, Apple, Motorola, Virgin and especially Target. Target began the practice of getting named architects, such as Michael Graves, and others to do wonderfully designed products at modest prices. Now Target is using designers, some named and some not, to reinvent products. Ergo, the new medicine bottle. Nothing is more annoying and more dangerous than the current medicine bottle. You know the litany of complaints. Designed to stop children from opening them, hardly anyone can open the bottles easily. And if you are elderly, the task is at times impossible.

Enter Target. DesignObserver has a great piece by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut on the ClearRX pill bottle that is in the new MOMA SAFE exhibit. ClearRX was designed by graphic designer Deborah Adler when she was still a student as New York’s School of Visual Arts getting her MFA. Her grandmother accidentally swallowed pills meant for her grandfather, triggering Adler’s redesign. In the end, Adler redesigned the bottle itself,clearrx.jpe
made an easy-to-read label, added color-coded rings, included a removable information card and put on new warning icons. The AIGA connected Adler to Target industrial designer Klaus Rosburg and Target Creative Director Minda Gralnek. History is made, stress is lowered and lives are saved as a result.

But there is more. Pill bottles apparently are attracting lots of attention. Yves Behar has just offered up his own redesign for Tylenol. It’s also in the SAFE exhibit. I’ll put it up as soon as I get an image. This is innovation and design for people. Great consumer experiences that are meaningful.

One more thought. Companies should really pay attention to students. We have the example of Adler. Beirut reminds us that Nike paid $35 to a Portland State art student for its Swoosh. And Maya Lin, of course, did the Vietnam memorial as a student. Allen, by the way, is now with the legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser.

Reader Comments

Christina Jackson

October 26, 2005 6:29 PM

I couldn't agree more with Bruce's sentiment that, "Companies should really pay attention to students." Since its inception, I've had the chance to see the innovative projects created by SVA's MFA students. Their craft and thinking are outstanding and, importantly, grounded in the realities of the marketplace. The companies that decide to connect with students in excellent programs like SVA's will view their time and efforts as a wise investment.


January 17, 2006 9:45 PM

Did you know that Nike (Phil Knight) retroactively paid that student over $250k after Nike became the industry leader it is today? Pretty cool. The fact that a little startup paid only $35 for a logo is not surprising. How is that different from any other stratup that had no money? It is easy to forget that they came from nowhere and could not afford much more than that when they were selling shoes out of the trunk of their car in 1971.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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