Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Outsourcing Our Ideas

My chair at work is an old one, and when a colleague's chair completely fell apart, we decided to get new chairs for work. The contractor who supplies office furniture to our place was contacted, and he came down to our place with a brochure and some samples.

The brochure itself was interesting, using terms like 'fully loaded', 'complete bells and whistle', and 'base model', given that it was describing chairs. These terms are more suited to describing cars rather than chairs.

He also brought a few samples. His recommended chair was by Zoom Seating, their award winning, patented design, exclusive chair called 'Champion Mesh'. As soon as I saw the chair, a single thought rushed to the forefront of my mind.

What a copy of a desi/Bangladeshi idea!

Let me state the official description of the chair.

Designer Sava Cvek fused science with art to create Champion, a highly ergonomic chair that distills form to its functional essence. The patented hyperbolic mesh surface of the backrest conforms to different body types and changing work postures. The equally innovative back shell creates flex zones that ensure constant support for the entire back.

Zoom chair (front - note the mesh)

Zoom chair (side)

It is clear the 'mesh', or the netted back of the chair, is what has won it many awards (didn't know there are people whose job it was to test drive fully loaded chairs). Now I am not saying Sava Cvek copied it directly from Bangladesh. That would be libel and he probably has been inspired on his own. But the idea was present for centuries in Bangladesh.

'Beter'' chair, or chairs made out of cane, and/or jute, are very common in Bangladesh. They are made by thin fibres of cane or jute, woven intermittently in patterns to create a mesh that forms the seat or back of the chairs. They are extremely comfortable. What the Champion Mesh is, is a sophisticated, adjustable, urban, redesigned (non-jute) and a cooler version of the old cane/jute chair.

That makes me wonder, what other ideas are there in the old country that can be exploited? Next time I am in Bangladesh, I am going to keep an eye out for such business opportunities. An American had tried to (unsuccessfully) patent biryani sometime ago. Maybe I can copy the tube-well (call it a new do-it-yourself self-sustaining water purifier). Ideas are welcome.

A cane chair (note the flexible mesh design).

Jute Chair



Aisha said...

Interesting observation. I've sat in those chairs. They are comfy!

mezba said...

One friend who recently injured his back and is going to a physio says most of the exercises recommended in the 100/hr sessions are very similar to taichi or yoga exercises.