Why should it look like an advertisement?

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Karim Rashid

When Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan founded Method in 2001 they knew their new biodegradable natural cleaning supplies company needed to standout on the shelves to have any chance of success.

After all, Method was up against some of the biggest corporations in the world, including Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, and SC Johnson & Son.

“I started looking in the cleaning aisle of the grocery store. Everything was really boring. It was a sea of sameness,” explained Ryan.

And so the Method founders approached the renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid, who has built a stellar reputation by designing everything from perfumes and watches to tablewear and furniture. But never plastic cleaning bottles.

It proved to be an inspired move. Rashid designed a series of innovative bottles for Method that gave the fledgling brand a distinct personality and helped clearly differentiate it from its staid competitors.

“Why do we feel like we need to keep revisiting the archetype over and over and over again?” Rashid asked in the documentary Objectified.

“Digital cameras for example, in which their format, proportion, the fact that they’re horizontal rectangles, are modelled off the original silver film camera. So, in turn it’s the film that defines the shape of the camera. All of a sudden our digital cameras have no film. So why on earth do we have the same shape we have?”

Rashid took the same approach at Method when his team designed the now famous teardrop shaped hand wash, an innovative washing-up liquid bottle that opened at the bottom, and what became a hugely popular line of surface sprays.

The strategy worked. Method grew into a multimillion pound business before being acquired by Ecover in 2012, which itself was then acquired by none other than SC Johnson & Son in 2017.

“Other companies are obsessed with maximising shelf presence and communicating so much on the fronts of their bottles,” explains Josh Handy, VP of Design at Method today.

“The reason why our bottles are so aesthetic is because we realise that it lives in your home for months. Why should it look like an advertisement?”

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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