What’s in a shape? HiBAR Face Wash

What’s in a shape? HiBAR Face Wash

When HiBAR set out to expand beyond hair care into Face Wash, we decided to come up with a new and unique shape. After all, since there’s no plastic bottle, we think it makes sense for our products to have an iconic look that you’ll recognize long after the paper packaging has been tossed in the compost bin. To get there, we enlisted our friends at Solid Phase Design, an industrial design firm located in San Francisco. We sat down with Martin & Tricia from Solid Phase to discuss the project.

Let's start off with the most obvious question: Why this shape? What does it do in a practical sense that is noteworthy or different from other bars?

We designed the HiBAR face cleanser to sit vertically, like a bottle, as a visual reference to other face cleansers. This allows it to sit vertically on store shelves, and also strikes a balance between the familiar tactility of bar soap and the visual iconography of liquid washes.

What do you hope the shape communicates to people, both visually and experientially.

The form is weighted towards the bottom to give visual stability when standing upright, allowing water to run off the product. It provides a sculptural form that fits nicely into the palm while, allowing application directly to the face. The shape also presents a prominent asymmetric gesture that evokes the HiBAR solid shampoo bar’s iconic silhouette — which is a wink to a droplet of water (evoking HiBAR’s mission of developing products that not only save water, but also help oceans and waterways polluted with plastic waste). 

A larger design question: as product/industrial designers, what role does design have to play in solving problems like plastic pollution?

We begin each project trying to understand the problem we want to solve. We question the standard approach to design and material choices that companies default to and then propose more creative and sustainable options. Plastic has become that default material, and it is our responsibility to determine if it’s the right choice, and if possible, challenge it.

If you could get into a time machine and go back to when designers first started using plastics in their packaging, what would you say to them?

We would say TREAD LIGHTLY! Unfortunately, plastics are an easy if short-sighted fix for so many design problems. We’d bring back photos showing where plastic ends up in the environment so designers could see the long-term effects of their design decisions. Then we could then bring back many sustainable old-school packaging like returnable soda bottles and snack foods in metal tins to inspire our modern designs.

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