After extensive research, Diarmuid MacMahon, Campbell Dear, Bayden Filleul, and Michael Nolan of Ireland’s Design Partners collaborate with Kieran McKenna of The Well Water to create the design for a water cooler that goes beyond traditional water dispensers for hygiene, user experience, and sustainability to the re-ordering and storage of water.
Taking a holistic approach, these insights were used to improve every aspect of the experience.
The project has been awarded a 2021 Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
Innovations such as moving away from plastic bottled water, touchless interface, storage, and refrigeration, inventing new mechanisms, and cloud connectivity for smart distribution and recycling, resulted in a solution set to transform the water cooler market.
Traditionally, water dispensers have sat gathering dust and germs in office corners – their plastic bottles that drop into the dispenser mean water flows into the system, sometimes leaving it stagnant for days.
The tap is never changed, and handling of the bottle can lead to contamination. Tests have shown that almost 40% of water coolers fail hygiene standards.
An innovative new mechanism was designed and engineered to ensure the machine never touches the water, making the passage from the box to the cup more hygienic than traditional coolers.
As a response to the Covid19 pandemic, the machine is completely touchless – detecting your hand’s proximity to operate. The surfaces and materials are designed to be uncluttered and easy to clean or sanitize.
Water coolers have used large plastic bottles that need to be sanitized and refilled back at the water plant, making the process unsustainable over long distances and logistically complex.
By using a bag and box system, a greater volume can be transported more efficiently than plastic bottles, and the boxes can be folded and entered straight into recycling streams.
Once you’re low on water, new boxes are dispensed and delivered so you never run out. This saves admin staff time in organizing new deliveries and means there will be a constant flow of water in the office.
The boxes are lighter than traditional bottles, and they are rectangular rather than cylindrical, making them far easier to store and transport. The lighter boxes reduce any ergonomic risks to employees.
The unit is split into two parts; the top section is the cooler, and the bottom section is storage with the connected weighing platform. This modular thinking has allowed for a countertop version for offices that don’t have the space available for a freestanding machine.
The Well Water cooler has been designed to solve many of the problems of conventional water coolers, which have remained mostly unchanged over the last 20 years.
The business model in place is much more efficient, sustainable, and scalable. Companies have access to clean and hygienic water, while the hassle of constantly ordering new bottles has disappeared with the use of smart technology.
Project: The Well Water
Designers: Design Partners
Design Team: Diarmuid MacMahon, Campbell Dear, Bayden Filleul, Michael Nolan, and Kieran McKenna
Manufacturer: The Well Water Ltd.