The Dustbin

The Challenge

Design a trash can intended for local, small-scale manufacturing.

The Objective

Develop a viable product that also elevated the daily ritual of collecting and throwing away trash.

My Role

As industrial design intern for designer Brendan Ravenhill, I assisted with design and research, constructed rapid prototypes, and drafted production drawings using AutoCAD and Sketchup.

Images by Brendan Ravenhill via brendanravenhill.com

Research

Material

We settled on enamel coated sheet metal as a material early on.

Ravenhill had an existing relationship with a local sheet metal manufacturer from his previous line of faceted sheet metal lighting. Plus, sheet metal was durable, hefty, beautiful and a suitable material for small-scale production runs. Injection moulded plastic, in contrast, was a much costlier option for manufacturing product quantities of less than one thousand.

Form

Ravenhill’s original product idea - that the trash can lid serve the dual functionality of a dust pan - guided our form. The biggest challenge was designing the mechanics of a swinging trash can lid given our constraints in manufacturing and function.

Studying the most commonly sold trash bag sizes helped us understand our volume requirements and eventually dictated the outer dimensions of the trash can.

Prototyping

We made prototypes using a combination of cardboard, chipboard, and wood. More refined chipboard prototypes helped us replicate sheet metal details since chipboard behaved so similarly to sheet metal.

Production Drawings

The Outcome

“Sales have been steady, if not great…”

The original run of one hundred Dustbins made in Los Angeles took a few years to sell out completely. After two years, the design was licensed to West Elm who sold the Dustbin in two sizes and three colors; they also began manufacturing overseas. West Elm later discontinued the product.

West Elm's marketing images for the Dustbin
In fall of 2016, after years of occasional but steady requests from customers, Ravenhill again offered the smaller version of the Dustbin manufactured in Los Angeles.