Led by Daniel Heckscher and Cristiano Pigazzini and developed with Klarna, the Swedish design firm Note has developed a radical new concept for the antiquated postal mailbox.
Note’s Modular Mailbox is a future-looking prototype with four core modules focused on shopping, sharing and sustainability.
It is fuelled by AI, primed for connectivity, and designed to enable third-party partners to build niche modules to serve specific needs and experiences.
The project was developed with the Swedish-based Klarna Bank AB, the leading global shopping service that recently launched a research project to explore how different aspects of shopping and retail experiences will look like in the future.
Note has helped them on designing and thinking the first prototype called “The Modular Mailbox.”
Klarna Future Shopping Lab has explored the future of the mailbox – transforming it from a static relic to a modular platform for future e-commerce, deliveries, returns, and shopable neighborhoods.
As the world shifts deeper into digital, once-essential everyday objects fall out of daily use, steadily becoming relics of a bygone age.
The mailbox is a case in point.
Ubiquitous, but increasingly underused, the mailbox has been superseded by the advent of online communication. With our messaging shifting further into exclusively digital channels, there is a risk that the humble mailbox may become entirely redundant.
At the same time, online shopping is growing exponentially, creating an ever-increasing number of parcels on their way to our homes. Meanwhile, people look for more personalized experiences, and new ways to live more sustainably.
“What if we could save the mailbox? What if we could reimagine it to serve the needs of the digital age as well as it did those of the analogue?” asks Note.
This was the challenge that online-shopping giant Klarna posed to Note’s studio and as part of its newly launched Future Shopping Lab initiative.
Attracted by Note’s cross-disciplinary approach, with projects spanning architecture, design and innovation, Klarna invited Note to play both the role of experts and as visual designers, tasked with bringing the concept to life.
Each modular mailbox is a part of a wider, connected network, where all modular mailboxes, and the services they enable, are connected and easily accessed digitally.
Module #1: The In- and Outbox
This module features space that can hold incoming deliveries of different types, such as packages or food. It also includes space for outgoing parcels, such as returns or things sold on eBay. This makes returns instantly available for others to buy, allowing neighbors to act on hyperlocal shopping opportunities. As a result, neighborhoods themselves become shoppable.
Module #2: The Recycling Bo
This module features space for recyclable waste from household and e-commerce.
Like a paper-shredder, the mouth of the module grinds and atomises materials, compressing them into a high-density recyclable block.
These can easily be stacked on top of each other, like LEGO, making it easy for logistics service providers to utilize empty space in their delivery vehicles.
They collect the recycling at the same time as they deliver parcels to the Modular Mailbox, creating a circular loop.
Module #3: The 3D-printer Box
This module features a multi-material 3D-printer that enables users to print small products and spare parts, cutting down on shipments and increasing the repairability of existing products.
The module is flexible, depending on the size and characteristics of the object to be printed, and connected to e-commerce platforms that allows users to buy printable products or 3D plans.
The printer can also be made available for others in the community to use.
Module #4: The Sharing Box
This module contains a storage room for products that the owner wants to share with their neighborhood.
It supports community sharing and growth of local sharing economies, enabling people to look for available solutions close by before buying new products.
Besides the four core functions, the Modular Mailbox provides endless opportunities for additional modules.
Third parties can develop niche modules that users can add to their Modular Mailboxes.
These might include variations in module size or capacity, a drone-pad module to support drone deliveries, or even brand-specific delivery modules, designed to enhance brand perception and the users’ unboxing experience.
“Deconstructing the mailbox and the infrastructure behind it unlocks new possibilities,” states Iskander Smit, Director of Cities of Things Lab at Delft University.
If you’re a frequent online shopper, you will no doubt return a lot of products over time. This makes the way in which returns are handled very important, both in terms of experience and sustainability,” states Daniel Heckscher — Interior Architect / Partner of Note.
“Everything in the world of recycling is horizontal. Just by making the entry point to the module vertical, you can tell that this is a different way of approaching recycling,” adds Cristiano Pigazzini — Design Manager / Founder of Note.
“So much innovation has been done on getting things to your home. The innovation I believe is missing is getting things out of our homes,” continues Ana Andjelic, Author, The Business of Aspiration, Sociology PhD and one of Forbes’ Most Influential CMOs.
Project: Modular Mailbox
Architects: Note Design Studio
Design Team: Daniel Heckscher and Cristiano Pigazzini
Client: Klarna Bank AB