Ergonomic Drill Attachment Ecosystem for Tilers
PRODUCT DESIGN, ERGONOMICS, RESEARCH
I was approached by Bovatin and Volandis with a challenge: design a sustainable solution to make a tiler's work less burdensome. Tiling is a physically demanding profession, and I was eager to find a way to make the work less straining for those who practice it.
Every tiler has their own methods and techniques that allow them to put their best work forward. However, the laborious nature of the craft can lead to serious long-term injuries over time. This is why Bovatin, the Dutch tilers’ association asked us to design solutions to make tilers’ work safer and less burdensome.
TROSS an ecosystem of tiling tool heads which work with an extended drill attachment. I developed this concept in collaboration with tilers to streamline their workflow and assist them in assuming ergonomically favorable postures.
The tiling profession requires attention to detail. By motorizing and streamlining less enjoyable tasks, TROSS allows tilers to focus on the parts of their craft they see fit. The extended tool head forces the tiler to assume a posture with arms closer to the body, protecting the shoulders and elbows from rotator cuff injuries.
As an association, Bovatin is stronger with more members. By reducing early retirement due to stress injuries, the tool would allow Bovatin to retain its experienced members for longer.
The younger generation of Dutch craftspeople are showing less interest in tiling as they see the profession as antiquated and laborious. A tool that can give apprentices confidence earlier on and reduce physical effort can encourage younger tilers to join the craft.
CULTURA & USER STUDIES
To understand the cultural context of tiling, we created "culturas", personas of tilers throughout history based on artifacts of the era. This research allowed me to gain insights into the values and motivations of tilers, and to develop a design that would be sensitive to their needs and aspirations. I designed TROSS with a focus on craftsmanship and autonomy, incorporating features that allow tilers to maintain control over their work and express their individuality.
CULTURE & FUNCTION
The intended interaction between TROSS and the tiler is of a Formula 1 car and its driver; the tool gives the tiler the platform to speed up their workflow. As the tiler builds their relationship with the tool, they create their own way of working, which will set their grout work apart from that of other tilers.
Analysis of the current workflow showed that tilers work with their arms raised above shoulder height for extended periods of time. This kind of work leaves tilers prone to repetitive stress injuries that get worse over time.
Bringing together insights gathered at research stage, I formulated my design vision as such:
“Tools should reflect a tiler’s sense of autonomy and craftsmanship and introduce alternative work postures for the sustained health of the tiler”
Current tiling practices
I collaborated with tilers to design TROSS, using their feedback to refine the concept and ensure that it would fit seamlessly into their workflow. The result was a tool with highly adjustable components, including a tilting head and versatile handle, that allows the tiler to work from a standing position with an ergonomically favorable posture.
To arrive at a sound concept quickly, I used prototypes of varying fidelities. These prototypes allowed me to de-risk the important design decisions by testing with users earlier on and answer significant questions without a lengthy research process. Some questions I had regarding this concept were:
Do tilers view the product as a medical aid or a handy tool?
What are mechanical capabilities required for a minimum viable product?
I worked closely with the tilers who tested the prototype to gather their feedback and make any necessary adjustments to the design. The final concept was well-received by the tilers who tested it, and I am confident that TROSS will make a meaningful difference in their lives. As a designer, it has been a rewarding experience to work on a project that has the potential to improve the health and well-being of a vital profession. The process of creating TROSS involved research, collaboration, and iterative design, and I am proud of the final product that emerged from this process.