Product Design Research | Branding | UX/UI
Research, Prototype, UX/UI
Length of Project
Student Runner Up
Strategy & Research Award
Core77 Design Awards 2020
Ollie is modular furniture that is sustainable, mobile and that can grow with you at any stage of your life.
The current generation is facing housing crisis, student debt crisis, slack economy, burnout, etc. This generation, the Precariat is highly mobile. In 2017, 45.3% of people 25-34 years-old lived in their home for less than two years. In this process, they often find themselves surrounded by disposable chipboard veneered flat pack furniture.
How can we create more sustainable furniture without compromising the look and price?
Market Opportunity: Furniture Waste
• Furniture is the least recycled household item in the U.S.
• 9.7 million tons of furniture waste going to landfills each year
• 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products
Entry Level Furniture
After paying rent and student loans, there is little money left for furniture leaving many with cheap disposable furniture that is ill-suited to frequent moves
We started the project with research, interviewing about 12 people accompanied by secondary research on trends on millennials and their mobile lifestyle. They included digital nomads, #vanlife enthusiasts, and millennials who move from city to city. We wanted to figure out:
What motivates them to lead a mobile lifestyle?
What are their needs and pain points when moving around?
What sustainable lifestyle means to them? Especially in the context of furniture?
The results of our surveys and interviews showed that our target users value freedom (both mobile and financial), sustainability, and quality and price.
Currently, furniture is a poor match for millennial lifestyles. Millennials move frequently. Every move they throw out their particle board flat pack furniture they outfitted their apartment with. Every time they move they start from scratch.
The major pain point of this moment was moving from place to place and how we are also using cheap flat-pack furniture in which 10 million tons of furniture go to waste. This became our major product intervention point. We identified the storage cabinet as the furniture type responding to the questions of ‘how we might create furniture that is mobile and easy to pack when moving.
How might we create a furniture system that incorporates mobility as a key feature that supports and adapts to the needs of the mobile generation?
The Opportunity Space
We wanted Ollie to be transportable.
It has two extruded aluminum rails that surround the carcass of the cabinet. Ollie is sized to function as a cabinet and still be able to be carried by one person. At 14"x14", the depth and width are just larger than a milk crate, and at 28" tall, the top handles are about waste high making it easy to lift.
We wanted Ollie to be used for life.
It's easily adapted to new uses—the Ollies that were once nightstands are joined to become a changing table for the new child. This means that buying an Ollie is timeless and long-lasting. When an object stays in your home, it stays out of the landfill. We support Ollie owners in keeping their Ollies functioning and when it is time to retire them, help recycle them.
Testing through Digital Engagement
After prototyping the product, we wanted to engage the potential customers and test Ollie as a product. We wanted our website to entail the following aspects:
Delivery of information
How would we deliver the value of Ollie as a sustainable product that is also useful to them?
Transparent process of the service and the product
The experience of refurbishing
Communicating the value in Ollie's brand and business model
We wanted to understand how the messaging and value come across for the users in order to get them to purchase their first Ollie. Our hypothesis was:
Even if the product on a pricy end, our target customers are likely to buy Ollie for its long-lasting, sustainable experience the brand provides.
The KPIs include:
How many people would actually purchase Ollie?
Time spent on the website
The path they took to get to the website
Final Website Design
The old wireframe taught us that the use of branded phrases can be unclear for new products like Ollie. Instead, we decided to keep the tagline in the top menu that stays put at all times and reminding the essence of Ollie as modular furniture that can be used for a lifetime.
Instead of a separate 'How it works' page, we made it easier to identify the modular nature and different configurations of Ollie with animations and a gallery view of Ollie in contexts of use.
Throughout the site, Pre-order buttons are readily available to elicit the user to order Ollie. These buttons are placed in these specific spots to test which information may trigger ordering.
As soon as the user arrives at the site, the main innovation of customizable configuration is shown through the product animation of moving shelves and drawers.
Previous wireframe that showed different number of Ollie put together was confusing for the user. It wasn't clear how different they are, when in fact, they are all just one Ollie. Therefore we created a dedicated page for the product itself and the users can add number of Ollies when pre-ordering.
Once the customer is done with Ollie, she can return the old Ollie to be recycled and refurbished. She can just schedule a pick up or drop it off to the local store.
In the 'Recrafting' page, we made it more clear about the step the user needs to actually take vs. what Ollie as a company provides in the refurbishing service.
Design for liberation:
When its time to escape the mundanities and drudgery of the city and find solitude and peace of mind, our furniture moves with you rather than ending up broken on the curb.
Design to keep for life:
Assembly & disassembly ought to be intuitive making our furniture easy to transport, simple to repair, and a breeze to customize.
Furniture as building blocks in your life:
Each piece will compliment your next step in life, career, and home; upgrade the materials of the components as you get upgraded.
Supporting the circular economy & sustainability:
When an item reaches the end of its usefulness we help you get to dispose of it more responsibly. We use ethically sourced and ecologically recycled aluminum.