The Binder Clip

Personal Selection:

My design tool choice is the binder clip.I selected this object for a few reasons. I find a binder clip to be an interesting object because it is taken for granted every single day by so many people. I also found it interesting because I think there are aspects of the binder clip that can be improved to better suit all sorts of people. It can be very hard to open especially for people with weak hand strength like children and the elderly. Also the metal handles of the clip often dig into the skin and cause discomfort. These issues make this product interesting to me.


Louis E. Baltzley invented the binder clip in 1910. Before this was invented stacks of paper had holes punched into them and they were then sewn together. This made it inconvenient for someone to remove a sheet of paper from the stack. Louis came up with this brilliant idea to help his father hold his manuscripts together.


The primary function of the binder clip is to hold together stacks of paper or documents. The binder clip is helpful when a paper clip is not big enough to hold everything together. One of the very positive things about this object is that it holds paper together without creating any holes like a staple would. Other odd unintended functions of the binder clip include holding fabric together, money clips, bookmarks, and even support for beer bottle pyramids on a wire shelf.


The primary user of the binder clip is typically office workers that need to bind large stacks of paper for their job. This object can always been found in office supply stores like staples and office depot. However, it is also common to see this as a household item.

Materials and Production:

The binder clip is made out of two simple materials. The black part of the clip is typically metal that is bent into a triangle shape to give it tension. The handles of the clip are commonly made out of wire. Binder clips are mass produced in factories.


The shape of this object does convey its function. The way the handles (the signifier) are situated on the clip makes the user want to squeeze them together. Once the handles are squeezed together it creates an opening that makes the user think it’s meant to hold something together. Overall I would say the binder clip has a functional shape.


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