Reimagining the Alcohol Wipe: H&M Health Lab + Patterns, by Adem Önalan


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Designed by Class of 2016 student Adem Önalan, H&M Health Lab is a speculative design project created in the 7-week Affirming Artifacts course. Envisioned as a collaboration between H&M and the World Health Organization, the work aims to bring awareness and solutions around hygiene and infectious diseases through the ingredients of fashion and media.The project revolves around a central product—the humble consumer alcohol wipe, and cleverly adds a triangle at the top to form a “pocket square,” or pocket handkerchief.

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Learning from the research, Önalan sees great value in the everyday product, and argues that people may be more likely to use antiseptic wipes if they are close at hand.

It is much easier to reach the wipes from the chest pocket, pants pocket, or purse strap—than hunting for them buried at the bottom of a bag.

So the embodiment of the pocket square provides both a convenient products as well as a fashion accessory. The wipes are sold in multi-pattern packs, and are “worn” in a stack; when one wipe is removed, it reveals the next wipe with a new pattern and color scheme. Using different patterns on both sides of packages adds more variety, so that each time a wipe is used, the look of the person changes. In addition, Önalan experimented with different scents, so that users would not only experience a different pattern, but also a different smell each time a package was opened. Unisex, the stylish wipes look great in both shirt pockets as well as pant pockets.

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Moving the project forward, Önalan prototyped an advertising campaign, along with a speculative website where H&M and the World Health Organization provide users with general health information as well as a digital platform for users to customize their alcohol wipe packages by designing their own patterns.

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Finally, Önalan envisions creating a new platform called PATTERNS™—where global brands beyond H&M can participate and contribute. Inspired by Product (RED), PATTERNS™ is positioned as a non-profit initiative launched by United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization to fight infectious diseases and hygiene challenges globally. Participating brands can sell the line of hygiene products—some commercial and some institutional—customizing the products to match the PATTERNS™ movement. Profits are used to fund research, prevention and cures for infectious diseases, from influenza to Ebola.

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