by Meghna MehtaMar 24, 2020
“I think working on a ‘finished’ object like a toothbrush is a little akin to designing a pencil: it’s almost impossible to design a new one, but we tried,” states Italian architect and designer, Piero Lissoni, introducing probably his tiniest piece of work to the world. A triumphant opening by all means, the statement nonetheless took me back to what Don Norman, the father of user experience as we know it, said about the adequacy of design: “Good design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible”. Coupled with Paul Rand’s “design is everywhere” adage, we begin to see why the need to question widely accepted and established fundamentals in design needs to be discussed and debated every few generations of products. This is also why every design process advocates a rudimentary going back to the roots, especially on a scale as small and for an ‘object’ or product as commonplace as a toothbrush. Need, better than purpose, defines usability, as opposed to utility. ‘Regenerate’ sets out to do the same to a product you cannot begin your day without.
Formed out of a coalition between the design expertise and sensibilities of Piero Lissoni’s globally renowned practice, Lissoni & Partners, and the material expertise of Regenerate Enamel Sciences, the toothbrush is the brand’s maiden product in this realm and scale. Regenerate adopts the “minimalistic and timeless” design philosophy of Lissoni, who insisted on deconstructing the typical structure of a toothbrush to understand the essentiality of building one. “The first thing we did was to strip it down to the pure and essential nature of its function, taking away everything that was superfluous, any excess of ergonomics, design and material. We sought to design the toothbrush by taking advantage of its functional simplicity wherein, paradoxically, also lies its beauty,” states Lissoni in an official release.
In a remarkable age wherein products gleefully bear the sustainability tag, and a world that only recently seems to have been jolted out of its stupor of the unsustainability of something as small as a toothbrush, any innovation is welcomed. For a fact, the world discards around 600 million kilograms of plastic from toothbrushes alone, comprising polypropylene and nylon as its primary constituents. While bamboo toothbrushes are a viable, eco-friendly innovation and a welcome move in this arena, Regenerate succeeds in adding an appealing, aesthetic angle to the design process: the advantage of a designer’s hand. "The idea was to make it contemporary, but at the same time friendly. Maybe the starting point was the premise that if I’m going to design a toothbrush, I want it to be silent. I want it to be simple, I want it to be almost like an extension of my own hand. I didn’t want a machine, I wanted a gesture. The simplest possible", remarked Lissoni on the design hand guiding Regenerate.
As opposed to conventional toothbrush designs that contain roughly 2500 filaments made of nylon strings, bunched into about 40 tufts, the head of Regenerate contains 5,904 filaments that promise advanced enamel care vis-à-vis a standard soft toothbrush. The filaments are closely tufted with round tips topped in an undulating plane to facilitate smoother yet effective brushing. The ultra-thin antibacterial filaments are also infused with silver phosphate glass technology that inhibits bacterial growth on the filaments for up to 90 days, and is as good as new upon washing after every use.
The name for Regenerate stems from its life cycle of reincarnation, that Lissoni states is the “project code” for the toothbrush. Being made out of 93 per cent recycled, regenerated plastic, formed and shaped by injection moulding, the design inspiration attempts to encompass its transformation and regeneration into yet another object at the end of its life. The design of Regenerate’s product imagery and graphics too was awarded to Lissoni and Partners by Unilever, transforming this into an all-round project that took the studio 18 months from August 2019 to develop and produce for availability in the market, an extended timeline owing to the COVID-19 crisis. DesignBridge collaborated with Lissoni & Partners on developing the attractive packaging design for Regenerate, comprising a fully recyclable cylindrical tube that houses the toothbrush. The Regenerate Enamel Science toothbrush retails for £8 on UK based e-commerce platform, The Hut.