Weepee: solving sex inequality in the restroom
Translated by 半月
As a female, have you had a hard time finding restrooms when doing outdoor activities? Do you have the experience of not being able to go out for your biological need in car? I bet you do. Especially for the elderly, it is a real pain to look for bathrooms outdoors. Because of biological differences, inequality between sexes is obvious when it comes to “going to the bathroom”.
“ People think accessible toilets is the miraculous solution for everything. However, there are details unknown to people with no health issues. We tried diapers or not to drink too much water. However, none of these worked well. It could be uncomfortable or bad for our health. “ Said Ms.Lin, on a wheelchair.
A Design for the “big issue”: going to the restroom
There are several products in the market trying to solve the sex inequality in restroom. However, we have not yet come up with a satisfactory solution. Some of the products leak. Others can only be used in a standing position. Product cleaning can be an issue, too.
Weepee, a Taiwanese product was born for this. The Inion Design Associates was founded in 2014. They aim to use “general design” to help free people from restrictions caused by their body, positions and the surroundings. What they want is to make women live more independently and try to use their design to fit this new lifestyle. ”Life is filled with restrictions. Some people are prevented from living independently or even pursuing their dreams. What is the problem with the position we are in when going to the restroom? Indeed, there is no superiority in position itself. However, we would like to free people from restrictions they are born with.” Explained Inion Design Associates.
Weepee fits perfectly female intimate part. In addition to its leak-proof property, Weepee is only half sized as its predecessors, which makes it very convenient to bring. It offers two versions made of different materials: plastic Weepee is made of rice shaft fiber, an eco-friendly material that can be decomposed by 45% naturally while the rest can be recycled and reused; Ceramic Weepee are made and designed by ceramic experts in Yingge, which is suitable for women who travel a lot and the warming and delicate texture is also suitable for elderly women.
“We’ve done research on similar products in the market and even tried products from abroad. In the process of product development, we’ve come up with different prototypes, trying to fit the need of different people of different age groups, for example. We aimed to design a product suitable for most people.”
There were doubts about Weepee’s use of hard material and its relatively small opening. Inion Design Associates had answers for each of these doubts. “According to our research, larger diameter of the opening is no guarantee of being leak-proof. After exiting from urethra, urine flow across the skin. It may not go in the opening of the device as expected. Soft material like silicone does not work well on controlling urine flows. Thus, we refined the design using different materials, trying to help more people, for example, disabled females who were overlooked in the past.”
After Weepee: A workshop on pants alteration.
Minerva and Cheng Ling, principal designers of Weepee project, had worked as caregivers and even had the experience of being disabled. They believe that disabled people have the right to live more independently. “All they need is appropriate assistive devices that help them live as others.”
Inion Design Associates, nominee for 2015 Golden Pin design award and winner of Gender Friendly Designer Award and Job Redesign For The Disabled Award, chose to put Weepee on flyingV fundraising platform. “Besides selling the first line of our products, we think the most important thing is that we got noticed through the campaign. Also, fundraising campaign is like a small-scale experiment. “
The campaign was put on the platform after product development. Therefore, the amount raised was used on manufacturing, including materials and molding. However, Inion Design Associates wanted more than that. “The current design of Weepee can help most females urinate when standing or squatting. However, for females on wheelchairs wearing pants, there are still problems unsolved.”
“After reaching the goal of 50 thousand NTD, we want to develop underwear for Weepee and provide pants alteration service. We want to discuss this issue in a workshop, aiming at creating an SOP for pants alteration for disabled people to comfortably urinate. More importantly, the pants should look nice.”
Product design comes from user’s need.
“We worked with companies and organizations related events like looking for trails that people on wheelchairs can go. We hope that through these events, disabled people and others can spend time together, getting the chance to understand and maybe help each other.”
“For Inion Design Associates, Weepee is not the first step for creating our business, but it’s our first attempt in physical product sales. We aim to provide an affordable, convenient solution in people’s daily lives.”
According to Inion Design Associates, what matters is consumer’s need.“We don’t go for fundraising with untested ideas or business models. When designing products, we take consumer’s opinions into account. For more mature product prototypes, we go for patents and competitions. These are tests that products should undergo before going to the market. Weepee has won several competitions and were patented before going for fundraising. ”
Intion Design Associates is now planning trade fair exhibition and trying to expand overseas market for Weepee. Meanwhile, they are working on several projects (focusing on solutions to outdoor inconvenience) and will come up with more prototypes this year, hoping to get noticed in design competitions. As they say, this is a process of “accumulation.” Some day, they may fulfill their dream of pants alteration for the disabled.
中文版連結Cover photo from Inion Design Associates