For an entrepreneur who set out to create “something absolutely basic but essential,” designer Rusty Allen certainly makes a splash with his first product, the GOBIE H2O®.
In the burgeoning reusable water bottle market, the design-centric GOBIE H2O® is anything but basic as a portable, reusable, zero-waste, filtered water bottle.
Allen’s creative call began at Savannah College of Art and Design, where as a student of painting and sculpture, he took a design class and “fell in love with product design process and the opportunity to apply fine arts and design strategy to objects that have potential lasting effect on society.”
Five years into his industrial design career, he wanted to develop a product that would have a positive impact on the environment, consumers’ pocketbooks and overall health.
“I was struck by the effect of our plastic waste on the earth, the alarming estimate of 600,000 plastic water bottles being thrown away by Americans every 15 minutes,” says Allen. “I wanted to do something about it.”
He partnered with Distinctive Plastics in Vista, California, to develop the GOBIE H2O®, bringing ingenuity to reusable bottles with a built-in 100 percent compostable filter intended to purify tap water and a functional, soft squeezable grip.
The 22-ounce bottle is made of Eastman Tritan™ copolyester combined with a TPE material in the blue squeeze grip, a finger loop, cap and base. The filter inside is made of carbon.
“The whole idea was to create a responsible, design driven brand, flag-shipped with a bottle for daily use – the gym, the office, daily trips,” says Allen.
“Even if you have a filtered system at your home, consumers need portability – the ability to drink clean, purified water wherever you go is the goal.”
The Big Squeeze
Allen’s aim was to offer a beautiful, ergonomically-focused, durable product that would eliminate the cost and waste of single-serve bottles – without sacrificing convenience and taste.
Form is just as important to function for Allen.
“Creating an object that consumers trust and want to use for a long time required attention to all touch points: ergonomics, functionality and aesthetics,” he says.
“When we started prototyping and getting into the manufacturing and design exploration, a key factor was the clarity of the bottle so we could showcase the filter inside – not only for people using the product, but at the point of purchase.
“There was a ton of R&D involved with Distinctive Plastics, Inc. (DPI). They had no experience using Tritan™ and were more comfortable trying to push a material they knew would bond well. As the designer, it was my job to force the overall importance of using Tritan™.
“Once we figured it out,” Allen explains, “they were completely sold on the finished durability and aesthetics and understood my commitment to the material. They’re now advocates for Tritan™.”
In2 Innovation, a Dallas, Texas-based product design and development firm, introduced Allen to DPI because “we were right in their sweet spot – they are experts with two-shot manufacturing.”
The flexibility of the squeeze grip is critical to the performance of the bottle, says Ken Buras, cofounder and chief integration officer for In2 Innovation. “The biggest challenge was developing a method for securing the squeeze grip onto the body of the container. We evaluated several approaches – from blow molding to multi-shot injection molding.”
Allen adds: “After many bond tests, we found a process that enabled the squeeze grip to adhere perfectly to the body while also withstanding the elements during daily use and in a dishwasher. The material was able to absorb the two-shot mold and eliminated some manufacturing processes.”
The squeeze action, as well as tilting, sipping and the placement of the filter all work together to make the drinking experience more efficient.
The GOBIE H2O® is the first to combine the rigidity and toughness of Tritan™ with a soft, elastomeric material.
Allen pegged other design deliverables including the large mouth that allows for filling with ice cubes, the tapered shape that fits in a cup holder, and added weight of the TPE base to help balance and eliminate tipping. The finger loop makes it easy and comfortable to carry and also serves as a resting spot for the mouthpiece cover when not in use.
GOBIE®, aptly named to imply ‘being on the go’, provides a new platform for innovation in sustainable products for daily living.
“If we’re doing this to reduce waste, we couldn’t use a filter that produces waste,” says Allen. “The whole premise was for the filter to be compostable, so we use active carbon – coconut carbon – made from coconut shells.”
The replaceable filter, which lasts for three months or 100 gallons, is designed to reduce chlorine and heavy metals and eliminate odor to enhance water quality.
“It’s an aesthetic claim that we wanted to start with to introduce the product to market,” Allen explains. “We’re exploring exciting new technologies and additives used to create upgraded filters, but for now it’s for use with tap water. The concept is not only about saving you money but providing pure water where ever you go.”
Though GOBIE® has unique qualities, Allen says, “it’s not really intended for a niche market; it is creative problem-solving through attention to detail, and from an overall point of view related to a major environmental issue.
“What comes across with this product is a hard-core passion for solving problems from a micro level on design detail and strategy to a macro level of wasteful consumption as a culture. I look at those videos of landfills – and someone has to do something. It was really about that.”