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First Look: Yubo, the Lunchbox That Lasts a Lifetime

Yubo, a new lunchbox created by Whipsaw, takes the problem of mobile meals and makes it more sustainable–and more fun.

I confess, I’m kind of a joke around the office, with my little plastic containers filled with last night’s leftovers for lunch. Mock if you must, dear colleagues. But behold my shoe collection! A girl must deploy her diminishing resources wisely.

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Which brings me, of course, to the topic of lunchboxes. This week, while most of the world is focused on getting their tykes off to school with the latest Spider-Man or Hello Kitty lunchboxes, I’m enamored of a far more creative line launching next week at ABC’s Kid Expo in Las Vegas, the annual trade show for the juvenile products industry.

yubo

Designed by Whipsaw, the hot Silicon Valley industrial design firm, the Yubo lunchbox is a super-cool, super-functional box launched by a new company (of which Whipsaw’s president and this week’s Expert Design blogger Dan Harden
is a partner) called Kinsco.

A year ago, when the economy was tanking, Harden and his team were sitting around talking about designing products that were centered around family values, in the nicest possible way. “We wanted to showcase how design can make life better, easier, and more fulfilling,” says Harden.

yubo

What’s more primal then feeding a child? What’s more frustrating than trying to find a way to get that food to school unsquashed, unspoiled, and appealing enough not to be traded for a Ding Dong?

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“We took the problem of going mobile with food,” Harden
says. “That’s a design problem, and nobody was doing it right.”

It was a dilemma the Whipsaw team was eager to embrace; despite being in San Jose, they were all delighted to do something, frankly, that didn’t involve
electronics.

yubo

The boxes they created feature modular BPA-free interior
containers (plus icepack) that snap together in various configurations like Legos. There are
choose-your-own, or design-your-own faceplates, and options for
accessorizing, from “personality tags” to water bottles. Or, you can upload a photo and create a truly personal box. Fittingly, the
company’s motto is “Play With Your Food.”

The real beauty of the product, however, is that it
addresses a problem that designers have lately been wrestling with in our
post-consumption economy: how to make things that are functional and durable,
but can continue to delight, even after many years.

yubo

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The Yubo may be the first lunchbox for
a lifetime, one that can begin its odyssey bedecked with dinosaurs, firetrucks
or fairy princesses, then morph into a feisty skater or martial arts design for
those critical middle school years, then garb itself in a faceplate of Shepard
Fairey’s Andre the Giant or a Kings of Leon CD cover for the post-drink box
crowd.

Sitting here, surrounded by
grubby Rubbermaid, I could be tempted to jettison my recycled grocery bags and pony up for one. Just save me a seat at the cool kids’ table.


Read Dan Harden’s Whipping Post blog

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About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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