Josh Lederer, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design (BFA ’97), recently launched the Kickstarter for PURUS, an antimicrobial brass “no-touch” tool designed to help users interact with numerous surfaces without having to touch them with their fingers.
Lederer and his design firm, Lexicon Design, were looking at the current space of tools that have come to prominence amidst the pandemic and recognized a primary error.
“The tools generally were designed as keychain accessories and after interacting with shared surfaces (such as door handles, ATMs, elevator buttons, etc.) are put in a pocket or on clothing,” said Lederer. “While copper and brass are inherently antimicrobial there is still a couple hour window of time before the microbes are neutralized.
“We realized that the exposed surfaces of the tool should be concealed after use to reduce the possibility of contaminating the user's pocket/clothes and potentially spreading the virus.”
Working remotely, the team at Lexicon Design initially sketched concept solutions and then moved on to a series of prototype designs and 3D printed iterations for user feedback until arriving at the final design.
“We worked with a local machine shop to fabricate a toleranced version of the product in the correct materials (hard anodized aluminum and brass),” added Lederer. “Then we sourced production manufacturers to finalize costing and worked with a local marketing group on the development of our Kickstarter campaign and social media rollout.”
The tool has a retractable brass touch point and a spring release design that has a smooth, engineered feel. The goal was to design a product that is as sleek and thin as a premium cellphone and would be considered an essential item for a user to keep with them daily.
“While most of the tools in this new category of product are utilitarian, Lexicon Design wanted to bring a sense of style and design, since it is likely that we will need to use such a tool for the near future until an effective vaccine is available,” said Lederer.
Lexicon Design, which Lederer originally founded out of a spare bedroom in his house in 2008, is a product development consultancy based in Pittsburgh.
“We are a team of designers and engineers fueled by creativity, offering world class design with a tailored customer experience,” said Lederer. “We work with small start-ups, large brands, and sometimes we design our own products. Markets we serve include medical device design, industrial safety, consumer products, electronics/IoT devices, sporting goods, travel, and more!”
For Lederer, the design process and user centered design principles instilled at CMU are the cornerstone of his work at Lexicon Design.
“Our professors brought a wealth of experience in user centered design, manufacturing process knowledge, creative problem solving, sketching/visualization techniques, prototyping techniques, as well as soft-skills such as methods for effective critiques and team building strategies,” said Lederer. “I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the chair of the department at the time (Craig Vogel) on some client projects/research as well as to contribute towards the refinement of the IPD (Integrated Product Development) program at the time.
“The School of Design builds design leaders and instills an empathetic, pragmatic approach to developing products and experiences. My education and experience at CMU has shaped my approach to the professional practice of design and inspired me to pursue an entrepreneurial path.”
You can support PURUS by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign which runs through September, 24th.