Designing Poo: The Awe of Diaper Design

Sep 17, 2009 | designingLULA

Mom & Rai, February 08

Mom & Rai, February 08

“There’s no sticky tape!”, my mom exclaimed completely impressed with my son’s diaper. You see, I’m the baby…and I’m thirty-three. Mom hasn’t seen a diaper in over thirty years. She was in complete awe. Kinda like I was a few weeks ago when I went to check out potty training diaper options.

Now, I’m sure plenty of people would take an experience like this in-stride; however, being a designer I have no choice but to see the craftsmanship in everything. And yes, that includes things made to catch poo.

I was standing in the store aisle completely amazed at the insane amount of options in not only brand names but types of diapers. Talk about decisions! There were boy graphics, girl graphics, pull-up types, temperature regulated ones to cue the kid when pee happens as well as disappearing picture graphics if your kid is a more visual type of learner. Since becoming a mom, I’ve been initiated into the world of child and parenting products. What a world full of wonder it is! Apparently, diapers are no exception.

This experience led me on a quest of curiosity about the history and design of diapers. Beginning with milkweeds back in the ancient day to environmentally friendly gDiapers of today, diaper design is one of extreme function, convenience, and now a push towards ethically conscious.

Without a laundry facility on-site, I guiltily use the disposable kind. I’m sure this guilt plays into the pressure that I feel to get him potty trained. But that’s another story…Cloth diapers were out of the question. Like I said, no on-site laundry, I’m not interested in being the source of some sort of mass e coli outbreak.

We tried the gDiaper. They are stylish and way more environmentally friendly than disposables; however, the design is a bit stressful for me, an OCD designer neat freak. The re-usable cloth outer piece is fantastic and even velcros in the back for the exhibitionist phase that all babies seem to go through. The inner disposable part gets flushed down the toilet. Presto! Just about as much waste as a regular trip to the bathroom. The issue for me is the process of dismantling the disposable part for the actual disposal. Great design for a non-poo phobic person but way too much anxiety for myself.

gDiaper as shown on gDiaper.com

gDiaper as shown on gDiaper.com

But enough about my little guilt ridden explanation, there’s also Seventh Generation diapers and Nature Boy & Girl that work just like the regular disposable kind except they are more organic and claim to biodegrade quicker.

No matter what diaper decision one makes, there is a design for everyone. Whether it be cloth, disposable, or some sort of hybrid of the two; diaper design has mastered the art of function and convenience. They are all quite aesthetically pleasing from the organic look for the more one-with-earth appeal to bold, funky graphics for the hip urban parent. They all focus on ease of wear for baby and ease of mechanics for mom and dad. Not like the old tape kind that Mom used. They range from the do-it-yourself cloth kind to the throw-it-away totally disposable kind.

It’s a heavy decision as a parent and a citizen of Earth as to which diaper one should subscribe to. Like with anything else, it all boils down to lifestyle, finances, and where your ethical viewpoint stands. But no matter what diaper decision one makes, it’ll be a far cry from milkweeds. Hmmm, makes you wonder if someone rocked out on the design of some milkweed diapers back in the day.

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