Sunday, May 18, 2008

Barbara’s Orbi

“Orbi combines the benefits of SafeCut technology with a unique, ergonomic design that makes it the most comfortable and easy-to-use can opener ever created.” This note is from LaPrima Shops, describing the GC11836 Can Opener created by Jump Design Inc. for Good Cook®.

“No more dangerous edges. This revolutionary opener cuts into the side of a can, leaving a smooth ridge and a top you can lift straight off with bare hands. The ergonomic handle is easy to turn.” So sayeth under the can, jar and bottle opener category.

Bed, Bath & Beyond: “If you are tired of the awkwardness and strain of twisting and turning traditional can openers, try the Orbi Safe Cut Can Opener, the easiest, safest and most comfortable opener around. Not only does it leave lid and can edges completely smooth, but it prevents cross-contamination by never letting the blade or lid come in contact with food or fall inside the can. Plus, the Soft Touch comfort grip and user-friendly design make it great for those with arthritis, reduced grip strength, limited dexterity, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.”

And our simple favorite from “Open a can without bleeding.”

There’s no advertising that I’m aware of. Jump Design, in Loft 10b on Van Brunt Street in Brooklyn, is self-described as a small industrial design firm that specializes in designing innovative consumer products: In our spectacular office location we design inspired products which are sold at Target and other major stores.

The only contact name I’ve found is Jürgen M Parlowski. If what I suspect is true, he and his team have found a terrific model: Create “needful things,” match them up to marketing organizations, and let those companies do the selling. Jump Design (I’m seeing parts of Parlowski’s name here) just keeps on doing neat work.

Good Cook promises “a metamorphosis in kitchenware” and it does advertise. (The name is a registered trademark of Bradshaw International, Inc., and not to be confused with The Good Cook, from The Book of the Month Club.) Good Cook was launched in ’87 – good job there – and, according to its website, has now captured 43% of the market in drug and grocery stores. That’s superb testimony to the company’s products as well as its distribution methods.

But Barbara discovered the Orbi in a mail-order catalog, purchased it immediately and now swears that it is the best can opener she’s ever used. Since Barbara has arthritis and has had difficulty with can openers for years, this is more than a gadget – it’s a blessing.

There’s a WOM component to this story, too. Shortly after Barbara started using it, Philippe Holtzweiler came over from the UK for the Offshore Technology Conference (see here). In addition to being a combat shopper, he’s a gadgeteer of the first magnitude. Barbara showed him the Orbi and opened a couple of cans with it. Holtzweiler jumped on the Internet, ordered it up and had it delivered overnight. He took his Orbi back to Bishop Stortford with him after OTC was over.

I’m not so much of a gadget fan myself…but Barbara’s the perfectly suited consumer for this perfectly designed utensil: A match made, originally, in Brooklyn.

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