THIS Toothbrush is no ordinary toothbrush: Interview with Leen SadderShare
What happens when a design student is asked to take a traditional concept and bring it back in “modern” form? The answer came to New York designer Leen Sadder as she tossed another empty tube of toothpaste into the trashcan. She wondered, why can’t there be a more environmentally sustainable way of brushing teeth?
That semester, THIS Toothbrush was born. Inspired by the Miswak, a cleaning twig with both medical and religious significance, THIS Toothbrush is encased in a modern and sleek packaging and has a definite economic and environmental appeal.
We interviewed Leen about her vision to introduce THIS Toothbrush to Western and Eastern audience.
What was your inspiration for bringing back the Miswak in modern form?
The inspiration came from researching the traditions and routines associated with oral hygiene, after I was asked to redesign a tube of toothpaste my first semester of grad school. I came across an article online about the health benefits of the Miswak and was instantly intrigued by its cultural and natural properties, so I thought to myself “Why not make it more accessible and create a product line celebrating it?”
How long did the design process take and what were some of the aesthetical/technical challenges you encountered?
Since the initial student project, we’ve been actively working on THIS for a little over a year. The main challenge was figuring out how to technically design a simple cutter cap that incorporates all the features we wanted for the product. After sketching and creating countless 3D printing prototypes, we finally landed on a design we were happy with both aesthetically and functionally.
What were some of the specific responses from people that motivated you to take the product to the next level?
The responses I received via e-mail, Facebook and twitter were quite overwhelming- the passion people have for the product is hard to explain and also really inspiring for me as a designer. The most motivating responses have definitely been ones where people from all over the world were e-mailing to order the product, thinking it was already in the market. It made me realize that I was fulfilling an actual need, and there were people counting on me to do a good job.
How do you think This Toothbrush could make its mark on your target communities?
THIS targets several different communities, including the Muslim, environmentalist and dental communities. On the one hand, it celebrates a culturally and religiously significant object by making it more accessible. On the other, it promotes an alternative method of oral hygiene that is also completely organic and environmentally-friendly. THIS has something for everyone.
What is your vision for where you want This Toothbrush to be in the long-term?
So far I’ve been taking it one step at a time, starting with the crowd-funding campaign where we hope to raise $18,000 for manufacturing and production. We’ve reached 58% of our funding goal and have 10 days left, so the next week or so is crucial to helping us move the project forward. Beyond that, my long-term vision for the product is to see it spread to as many different communities as possible and raise awareness about the benefits of using the Miswak. I also hope to evolve the product line to encompass different accessories and cases serving different purposes.
Impressed? To learn more about THIS Tootbrush, or to support the cause, visit the Zoomaal page.