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Us & Coutumes - Hygiene

Award category
Products and life style
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NEW EUROPEAN BAUHAUS RISING STARS : concepts or ideas submitted by young talents (aged 30 or less)
Project title
Us & Coutumes - Hygiene
Full concept/idea title
Hygiene utensils update the use of the washcloth to reduce water consumption.
Everytime we wash ourselves with a washcloth instead of a shower, we save 80 liters of drinkable water. Yet showers are the norm, becoming longer with each generation. This led me to design contemporary ceramics, dedicated to washcloth hygiene. Made out of ceramics and textiles, the objects adapt to our habits and home. Every detail unconsciously pushes us to save water, from the shape of the container to the textile selected. Finally, the “grey water” can be used to water plants.
Where is your concept/idea being developed or intended to be implemented in the EU?
Nouvelle Aquitaine
14 rue de la Renaitrie
Please provide a summary of your concept/ idea
In a few generations our way of life changed drastically. Like the water scoop, objects and customs developed over centuries have become obsolete. Thanks to the industrial revolution, a level of comfort never reached before appeared in every home including drinkable running water, electricity, central heating, fridges and bathrooms. In the face of the environmental crisis our way of life must change again. We have to find a way to preserve natural resources and energy. But engaging in drastic changes is complicated, often asking too much of the user. Why not go back to basics? By rediscovering forgotten traditional uses, “Us & coutumes' encourages the change of our most personal, ingrained and polluting habits. Starting with domestic water use, I aim to offer a progressive and positive view on changes toward durable habits. Everytime we wash ourselves with a washcloth instead of a shower, we save 80 liters of drinkable water. But in our society showers have become the norm, becoming longer and more regular with each generation. I started by analysing our relationship to hygiene. Researching objects that were used before running water came into our homes, I discovered traditional ceramic sets. This led me to design contemporary ceramics, dedicated to washcloth hygiene. Made out of ceramic bowls and textiles, the objects adapt to our habits and home. Every detail unconsciously pushes us to save water, from the shape of the container to the textile selected. Finally, the “grey water” is kept and can be used to water plants or gardens. The set can be placed lower or higher, for children or adults. Mobile, it can also be set up at strategic points, like the entrance or the bedroom. Liberated from the sink, personal hygiene isn’t limited to the bathroom anymore and can adapt to our real needs. Diploma project from ENSCI-Les Ateliers
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of sustainability and how these would be met
Drinkable running water is a luxury that is completely integrated in our countries. Fetching water used to be a harassing task, it has now simply vanished making our personal consumption ten times what it used to be. But the human body has not evolved to need so much more water, we simply have changed our habits and they can change back. Water consumption is invisible, as the water appears and vanishes almost immediately, disappearing in the sink. We use drinkable water for every purpose, from cleaning ourselves and watering our plants to flushing our toilets. But all this consumption has a cost : the water treatment system requires a lot of energy to recycle all this wasted water as droughts become more and more common. I decided to tackle personal hygiene as it is the main water consuming activity in our homes. A 5 min shower is said to use 80 L of water, and we tend to take daily showers longer than that. After studying our hygiene habits and discovering that we all had our little specificity I decided to show an alternative : a washcloth set. The freestanding set has multiple advantages : the drinkable water amount is finite, and presented as a valuable resource. The scoop allows us to control the exact amount that we want to use, unconsciously limiting our consumption. The evacuation is always closed, revealing to us how much we have used. The grey water is kept and can be used to water the plants. The washcloth is designed to use little water and dry fast, still providing a nice foaming sensation, and the tablecloth protects any space the set would be put in. The set allows for a full body, hand & face morning session using only 3L of water. Made in ceramic it can be produced locally and will last generations if not broken ! By only skipping a few showers, hundreds of litters of drinkable water are saved. The set is designed to embody this idea in a positive and seducing way.
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of aesthetics and quality of experience beyond functionality and how these would be met
Habits are extremely hard to change, especially if the change is seen as a decrease in lifestyle’s quality. My idea was to provide tools that would make implementing new habits easy, allowing for a smooth transition into a more sustainable lifestyle. To make objects that would make us want to use them, not only for environmental reasons, but simply because the experience they carry is attractive. I based my design on traditional objects as they are already part of our life. We may recognize them from our grandparents' house or old movies. We know that those objects, and the habits they carry, were common, used daily and that they worked. Starting from this basis of trust, I worked on a smooth and neutral aesthetic for the ceramics. Every curve is either based on an easiness of manipulation or on the will to showcase the beauty of water. That creates objects with a pure aesthetic, easy to read and understand even though we might have never used something similar. They are naturally white and beige, thanks to the ceramic that is used. Everything is done to make them as neutral as possible, making sure that they would find a place in almost any interior and for a long time. On the other hand the textiles are designed to bring color and identity to the set. Textiles are not as durable as ceramics, and they can easily be changed according to our taste in order to create a new ambiance. The initial blue drop patterns mimic the water drops that would inevitably fall around the ceramics. They guide the users on the position of each piece, even though obviously everyone is free to set it up as they want. The design of the set is the embodiment of a relaxing self care routine, where every piece takes part in a ritual. It sells to the user the idea that cleaning themselves with handcloths and saving water doesn't have to come with a duller lifestyle.
Please give information about the key objectives of your concept/idea in terms of inclusion and how these would be been met
Bathroom is traditionally a fixed part of our home. It is very hard to modify and adapt and we more often than not are the one adapting to it. But as for everything else in our home, it should adapt to us. Not everyone is the same height, has the same needs or the same abilities. A family with toddlers will not need the same accessibility as a young adult couple or an eldery person. Without the need to be linked to running water and sewage, we can set the hygiene habits free. Just as in ancient houses where no specific rooms were dedicated to cleaning ourselves, we can take out our set whenever we need it, and exactly where it's needed. We might want to set it over a table so we can sit while cleaning ourselves, or in the parents bedroom so that they can enjoy a quiet moment while the normal bathroom is busy. The set can move freely to where it's needed, be discarded for a while and brought back when necessary. This solution opens a whole new field of habits by questioning the static bathroom : it allows us to easily test our capacity to change our routine before taking more definitive steps towards sustainable homes. It gives us the possibility to try new ways to personal hygiene in a mobile way, to figure out exactly how we want to do it, instead of following the standards. It adapts hygiene routines to our needs, instead of having us adapt to the bathroom.
Please explain the innovative character of your concept/ idea
Numerous projects already exist targeting our water consumption, either working as plug-in on existing systems, like water saving shower heads, or fully changing our bathroom, by remodeling the water systems for example. The issue I noted with those projects is that they do not target our habits. While the first doesn't impact us at all, the second asks to invest a lot in order to remodel everything drastically. For me, our habits are at the core of any durable transition.  This project is innovative because it takes another approach to changes, trying to find ways to make us change willingly, not only by ecological concerns, but simply through the attractivity of the objects. The open ended use of this set helps it to blend into our lives, slowly becoming part of our routine. From this point it is easier to increase the use of one over the other. Once the first step is taken, the rest comes almost easy. Taking inspiration from the past, before all commodities reached our homes, as obvious as it may seem, is also quite innovative. We always consider progress as the creation of brand new things, always going forward and figuring out new technical ways to solve our issues. But those issues aren't new, especially when it concerns living a comfortable life while maintaining a low environmental impact. Generations over generations have worked on refining solutions before us, and there is no need to completely cut free from those in the name of novelty.  Environmentally friendly designs do not need to be radically innovating, they can also take the shape of a simple and seducing object that carries simple ideas over innovations.
Please detail the plans you have for the further development, promotion and/or implementation of your concept/idea, with a particular attention to the initiatives to be taken before May 2022
This project was first prototyped in december 2019 as my graduation project at ENSCI Les Ateliers (Paris). This first step allowed me to validate some design choices, but it also pointed out some issues. As I presented this project through various events in 2020 and 2021 (Biennale Émergence, Dutch Design Week, Paris Design Week), I noted the interest Us & Coutumes lifted in the public and professional eyes. I am convinced that, with time well spent on refining the designs and production method, Us & Coutumes could become more than a prototype, and start taking a real place in our homes. The next steps would be to team up with a ceramist who would be able to work on refining the design with me. Creating molds to produce a few sample sets would allow me to test the project in real life, with various contexts and families. Over a few months, I believe that most user experience tests would lead to new design modifications, and the iterative process of designing and testing would have reached its end. This would create a market ready product. I hope this process would be over by spring 2022 Once the set is ready, I would try and find editing companies that would be interested to add it to their products. As a designer, I do not myself have the capacities or will to sell my own products. I am completely unable to maintain a stock and direct a marketing operation. But by targeting editors that are engaged in sustainable design, I would target users already sensitive to it. I already know of companies that might be interested in the collection and with whom I would be able to figure the best diffusion strategy. Hopefully, once the project is on the market, and with the right marketing strategy, it would be successful enough to support itself.  
By ticking this box, you declare that all the information provided in this form is factually correct, that the proposed concept/idea has not been proposed for the New European Bauhaus Rising Stars Awards more than once in the same category.


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