Thursday, 6 June 2013

21st century collecting box.

The Canal and River Trust has come up with some unique thoughts since its inception. Boats full of trees and graffiti on lock gates. However, one unique thought is proving to be a bit more unique than all of the others. The latest unique thought is a new design for charity boxes. As CaRT said "just think of the Guide Dogs’ life-size Labradors and the RNLI’s lifeboats.... The WWF’s pandas."
The Canal and River Trust has given product design students at Central St Martins the task of creating a brand new collection box for the charity that will capture the public’s imagination and generate funds to protect the nation’s much loved canals.
Jane Penty, Product Design stage leader at Central St Martins, said: “The simplest objects are always the most challenging to design but connecting with people through objects is what we are all about at CSM. Our students are enjoying the opportunity of playing with the many ways of adding to the experience of giving for the Canal & River Trust.” 

Now, my first thought on a design was a boat. However, as the theme of a boat has already been done by the RNLI. Casting an eye round the canal, the obvious one was a design that included a set of lock gates. But a square box with a pair of lock gates at each end is going to be a bit twee and its not very a  very original design.

The collection box needs to be able to command attention, it needs to have that link in the publics mind that associated the object with the canals. I then thought of a bridge... but no.... that design is linked into the old BWB logo and would conjure up memories of the bad old days. Then I thought of a Swan... but no.... that would attach more to the RSPB or other some ornithological charities. Looking around the canal, one is always struck by the beauty when viewed at a distance. However the reality is that the canal is often polluted, with plastic bottles when viewed up close. So a landscape design would also be out of the question. 

I started to make a list of what I have seen in and around our canals. Television Sets, Computer Monitors, Oil Drums, Bed Mattresses, Used Nappies, Plastic Dog Poo Bags (complete with smelly content), Plastic Shopping Bags, Plastic Bottles, Plastic Containers Various, Paint Tins, Old Bikes, Sunken Boats, Glass Bottles, Beer Cans, Logs, Plastic Pipe, Abandoned Boat, Cardboard Boxes, Settee, Arm Chair, Kitchen Table, Bar Stool, Trees, Kitchen Chair, Shopping Baskets, Leaking Lock Gates, Mud Banks, Overgrown Trees, Collapsed Banks, Oil Spills, Asbestos Sheets, Wheelie Bins, Dustbins, Motorcycles, Cars, Coats, Conveyor belt, Tyres, Tarpaulin, Graffiti, Sacks, Wire, Rope, Fridge, Washing Machine, Tumble Dryer, Safety Fence, Heating Radiator, Polystyrene Sheet, Chemical Containers, Plastic Bread Trays, Wooden Pallets, Car Battery, Fire extinguisher, Trousers, Electrical Cable Reel, Condoms., Sanitary Towels, Stool (wood), Polystyrene Bean Filled Bags, Dead Dog, Dead Deer, Dead Fox, Kitchen Sink, Bath (plastic), Shopping Trolley.

I first of all considered the shopping trolley as a suitable representative design. After all it's associated with the canal in the mind of boaters, walkers anglers and fly tippers. CaRT could get one of the big supermarket chains to sponsor production of the collection tin. I think the design idea has some merit.

After all people often remark on the number of trolleys they have spotted on a day out. As a bit of canal graffiti said "A bridge hole without a shopping trolley is like a fish without a bicycle."

Love your canal
Put your P's in here!

Then the ideal design came to mind in an instant. It incorporates water. The nature of the design is so that it actually turns water into wastes and eventually wastes back into water. Which is a good analogy for large numbers of leaking lock gates. It's intended to be used as an outdoor design which is another good metaphor. It is an old design that's been around for as long as the canals. Capturing in it's time much more than just 200 years of social history. Its made of wood and so has a green recyclable image. It captures the public's understanding of the canals. As a unique place not to be used as a dumping ground, which is another good metaphor. It carries in addition the theme of don't let your dog do its dump here to dog walkers. I bring you the often overlooked wooden outdoor toilet!

Imagine a small square box, made to look like an old fashioned toilet shed. Incorporate into the design the green grass of the towpath. The symbol of love of the canal. With a fun element logo that says, "Love your canal, put your P's in here!"

Another little jobbie done well..

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