British industrial designer Jasper Morrison has lent his minimalist touch to an array of common objects over the years: furniture, lighting, kitchen utensils, household electronics, menswear, and even a subversively pared-down dumb phone, all of which embody, in one way or another, virtues of “super normal“—a design philosophy that favors agelessness over novelty.
But his latest design, while undeniably utilitarian, isn’t meant to last. On the contrary, it’s a bar of soap that, naturally, dissolves with use.
Released this weekend by the young Brooklyn startup Good Thing, said designer soap (simply titled, Soap—go figure), comes in a translucent slab of four bars, perforated to be broken apart by hand, and each engraved with an italic-set “Soap” on its surface. It’s as super normal as soap can get, and as the product copy matter-of-factly states: “Soap is a gentle and effective everyday tool.”
Morrison’s design is a coup for Jamie Wolfond, the 26-year-old founder of Good Thing, who says he reached Morrison via direct messaging on Instagram after noticing that the famed designer was liking Good Thing’s photos. Since launching in 2014, the company’s winsome, affordable line of everyday, utilitarian objects has quickly become an established platform for emerging designers that take a studious and playful eye to industrial production. Popular items include the kit-of-parts Sticker Clock—which comes with two adhesive strips and a clock face for the user to assemble and stick onto a surface—and ordinary wares like vases, bottle openers, and trivets.
The idea to produce soap was Wolfond’s, who notes that as a design object, it’s “an extremely common product that is still almost impossible to find on the market in its very simplest form,” both in color and scent. Despite the simplicity of the design, he describes a labored production process that involved waiting three months, the length of time required for the soap to solidify, between each trial and test.
Is Soap a subtle joke about minimalism or the beauty industry? Neither, says Wolfond. “The other reason for Soap was to continue exploring the boundaries of Good Thing as a manufacturing company,” he says. “First we made only accessories, then added furniture, which left us with the question of exactly how to define what types of objects we would and wouldn’t make. With the introduction of Soap, it now makes sense to think of Good Thing as neither a furniture nor an accessories brand, but simply a home brand, focusing on the way in which people interact with their most intimate space.”
It’s an earnest and logical strategy—and while the idea of a beauty product designed by an star industrial designer may seem somewhat novel, it wouldn’t be the first (Muji and Tom Dixon make soap, too). And yet, we’re not convinced there isn’t a joke wrapped in a riddle here somewhere. The set of four, $29, is available for preorder at supergoodthing.com.