Ringo
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How might we support the learning experience for children as a chair manufacturer?

Ringo

The growing chair for kids

Client: SIDIZ, Inc. Project Timeline: 2010 – 2011 Release: Aug. 2011

My role: Product design, Model making, Upholstery design

Awarded: iF Product Design Award 2012, Red Dot Award: product design 2012 “red dot,” Ergonomic Design Award 2013 “Grand Prix,” Korea Good Design Award 2011, German Design Award 2014 “Nominee”, Japan Good Design 2014

Challenges

Business perspective: The company had a goal to expand its product line to a home environment. At the moment, there was a well-known competitor which has been a dominant home kids’ chair for more than a decade.

User/customer perspective: The company has specialized in a high-performance office chair, mostly for adults, but there was a lack of research about children as a user.

How I approached & Research

The other in-house designers started to research the existing children’s chairs to learn what features that we can provide. Many of the chairs used adult chair’s features but in a smaller size with limited functionality. However, I approached parents’ online communities and read most posts and comments about the children’s chairs to listen to what the users actually wanted.

What I have found

  • Children grow significantly between the ages of 7 to 12, and parents hesitate to provide a properly sized chair to them due to its short lifetime.
  • Rather, parents add cushions on their dining chairs or prefer to sit on the floor at a low table. It leads to bad posture and distraction.
  • Children don’t maintain a good sitting posture and parents are used to nag about it.
  • Children are easily distracted on a tilting swivel chair.

Insights

  • Many Korean parents have cared for their children’s sitting posture and concentration in a study.
  • The key feature of a children’s chair is size adjustment. If the chair fits well, children can maintain a good posture longer.
  • The significant dimension is seat depth. If the depth is too long, children’s back is bending or they do not lean on the backrest.

Ideation

Based on the research insight, I proposed multiple ideas, mainly focusing on the size adjustment, light functionality, and soft shapes. After the idea review, my proposal was eventually selected by the strategy team and engineering team, and I became the lead designer of the project.

After many design development, the chair shaped like the below: The backrest and the armrests are in one mold, and it moves diagonally to adjust not only the backrest height and seat depth but also the armrest height at once..

All dimensions of Ringo are based on certified data from the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards.

Prototyping

Ringo’s first 1:1 scale mockup was made with ABS and Styrofoam to check the real scale, proportion, and usability. During many prototyping rounds, my project team verified the dimension of Ringo with engineers with 7-year-old children by visiting the children’s learning center.

Production

Ringo has been manufactured in the company’s factory. Its quality took time to be improved before releasing it to the market.

Release

Ringo was released in the market in Aug. 2011. Quickly it became the essential product for elementary school children.

Sales

Since its release in 2011, Ringo has been sold to many families who have children aged 4-7. It is now called “국민의자” which means ‘the Korean’s Chair.” The company expands the fabric design to make a limited edition. Now it is selling well in the US and China.

What I have learned from this project

  • User research: As a provider, we could provide many good features but the research insights lead us to identify what to choose primarily.
  • Teamwork and collaboration: The project team members believed it will be a great project. We were able to develop it even though the leaders were not sure about it.