The making of a Saga

How do you create a successful product for a niche target group while keeping production costs low enough for a small series? That was the challenge for Saga, a unique bottle holder for sloops (small rowing boats).

Sloop rowing is a popular sport in the Netherlands. Still, with about 1600 active rowers nationwide, it’s not a huge market. There aren’t many products specifically aimed at this group, certainly no bottle holder.

The need for a good solution is considerable though. Rowing makes you thirsty, and keeping your water within reach is important:

Yet finding a good spot on board isn’t easy.

Makeshift ideas can work…

…until they don’t.

Being a passionate rower myself, I accepted the challenge. Together with my intern Joey, we had to not only come up with a functioning tool, but a deliberately designed sport accessory.

Every product costs a certain amount just to be made. With such a small anticipated user group, we had to make considered choices in terms of manufacturing methods and materials used. Standard mass-production principles (and the retail prices associated with them) would not work with such low production numbers.

We started concepting in different directions, looking at various materials and their design potential.

Folded plastic would be cheap in production, but also in terms of appeal.

A fabric bottle holder offers a better design appeal in theory…

…however, sewing the products locally would have cost much more than people were willing to pay for.

The simplicity of a flexible mat/ bottle tray struck a chord – here’s an early foam prototype.

In the end, silicone casting ticked all the boxes. Perfect for small series while offering great design freedom.

Having a 1:1 mock-up of a rowing bench section proved to be an invaluable asset. Not only could we test any prototype right where we built them – in the studio. It actually made product presentation and demonstration to stakeholders much more effective as well.

Now it was up to the design itself to show its true benefit. Functionality and price alone would not be enough to make this product a success. In order to justify the cost of a locally produced and handmade product, it needed to get (and keep) the end user excited.

And exciting she is! Avoiding becoming just another cupholder, Saga effortlessly combines simplicity and beauty:

It’s a real pleasure to watch how Saga’s minimalist, yet emotional design resonates with people. That is the secret of good design – adding that crucial little bit of magic and charm to a product.

The numbers speak for themselves – within the first week several teams of Daventre Portu (the sloop rowing club of Deventer) ordered their own full sets in team colours. What started out as a studio project turned into a real product – the Saga!

Want to know what I can do for you?

Email or call me:

mail@sixfoot-four / 06 4112 7230

Benieuwd naar wat ik voor jou kan betekenen?

Mail of bel me:

mail@sixfoot-four / 06 4112 7230

Neugierig was ich für Sie erreichen kann?

Nehmen Sie Kontakt auf:

mail@sixfoot-four / 06 4112 7230