Invented by Scotch Holland in the early 1700’s, window blinds have a history of over 300 years, through which they have undergone numerous transformations for both functionality and aesthetics. Unlike the design that is common today, original window blinds did not have a catch mechanism to hold the cord in the desired position. Instead, long cords were used to pull open the blinds and secured in place by winding the cord around a wall mounted cleat.
However, whilst designs have evolved dramatically over time, cords remain integral to the operation of most modern window blinds.
Window cord strangulation is a very real threat in Australia. According to the ACCC, “tragically, between one and two children die in Australian homes every year as a result of non-compliant corded blinds and curtains…Loose cords can be extremely dangerous to young children, as they can quickly tangle or loop around a child’s neck.”*
Cordaway wanted to reduce these risks posed by window blind cords. They contacted our Melbourne-based product design team at ONEPOINTSIX to help design a solution that could prevent these incidents of window cord strangulation and make Australian homes safer for children. The brief required that the design solution be minimalistic, simple to use, suit a wide variety of home interiors, and be affordable, whilst also complying with applicable safety standards.
The design team at ONEPOINTSIX conducted research into consumer product styling, as well as exploring multiple functional design options, from simple two-part designs to complex spring retraction mechanisms. In addition to style, our goal was to create a product that is practical and easy to use.
After critical evaluation of the concepts, a simple two-part design was selected, consisting of a back plate with cleats to wind the cord around, and front cover. The back plate allows cords of various sizes and shapes to be wound and stored out of reach with minimal tangling. The front cover hides the cord and back plate, attaching using hidden snap-fits. The clean aesthetic created by the lack of visible fasteners like screws was essential in minimising the visual impact of the product.
Once the core features of the design were established, ONEPOINTSIX focused on the styling. Empowered by the elegant functional design, the team was able to explore a wide range of aesthetic solutions, without needing to design around ugly features like screws or other clunky details, proving the expression; “Good design is 99% invisible”. After developing several design concepts, a shape was selected that felt at home among other similar products, with mitred edges to catch a subtle highlights. A central contour line down the front face of the ‘shell’ front cover, adds strength and ensures that the flat front face doesn’t look too plain and never appears warped (as can happen with injection moulded products with designers that are unaware of how to suitably allow for the manufacturing process).
The next step was to create production specification drawings, keeping in mind the critical details obtained from the prototype testing phase. Tolerances were defined to ensure the product functioned smoothly and could be produced according to all specifications.
Finally, with the product development complete, ONEPOINTSIX worked closely with both local manufacturers and Cordaway to provide manufacturing support to help deliver this premium safety device for the Australian market.
· Functional Concept Design
· Aesthetic Concept Design
· Engineering Design
· 3D CAD Design and Drafting using SolidWorks
· International/Local Manufacturing Support
· Product Visualisation and CGI
* Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 2016, ACCC warns of dangers of loose blind and curtain cords, 07.20.2020, <https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-warns-of-dangers-of-loose-blind-and-curtain-cords>