Well-designed Things: YELO bag by Prayas

© Prayas

Other than advertising and UI design, I often find myself reading about product design, especially about furniture. It is fascinating to read how designers think of multiple functions for a chair or shelf, or how something complicated like a workspace can be minimalized and compartmentalized.

the YELO bag by Prayas, a social enterprise in India, was created to aid their goal of empowering students and rural households with basic educational infrastructure to study efficiently and lead better lives. I consider the end product a good design as it

  1. Adresses the problems that it seeks to solve in a intuitive manner; and
  2. Sports a look that is appealing to its target audience (school children)

The Problem
Prayas wanted to provide rural school children with basic education, but the schools the children went to could not even afford desks and chairs, resulting in them sitting on the floor, hunched over their books for a prolonged period. This is detrimental to their posture and eyesight. The children themselves are poor and are unable to afford proper school bags to carry their books. The remote areas that Prayas works with also encounter heavy power cuts.

© Prayas

The Design
The YELO bag is a briefcase like bag made out of corrugated plastic (this makes it long-lasting, light-weight and also water-proof), that can be transformed into a desk just by folding in the flaps on the top. The desk face slants at a 30–35 degree angle to ensure that the user will be sitting in an ergonomic posture even though they’d be sitting on the floor. This is pretty important since even not regular school desks take this into account because students are seated on chairs. The bag comes equipped with a LED light source and a solar-kit that has a rechargeable battery (either by solar power or AC charging). This would provide the user with a light source for when the power is cut off, as well an extra source of power in an emergency.

The bag comes with a strap as well as a handle, giving the user a choice for their method of carrying. The desk surface acts as a clipboard to secure their writing and reading material.

I find this design successful because it is a sustainable design that has resolved all the major problems identified. The solution is simple and intuitive enough that the target user (a child) is able to use it without confusion, and it leaves room for the user to make choices on how to use the product. The bright coloured and playful visual design is the bonus to top it all off. Analyzing this product helps me visualize user experience design in a more tangible manner before I apply the same sort of breakdown to web and mobile apps.

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