Share this 29 JuneJun 2022

Transforming the water cooler market

Traditionally, water dispensers have sat gathering dust and germs in office corners – their plastic bottles that drop into the dispenser means water flows into the system, sometimes leaving it stagnant for days. The tap is never changed, and handling of the bottle can lead to contamination. Tests have shown that almost 40% of water coolers fail hygiene standards. So, how do you revolutionize conventional water coolers to make them leaner, cleaner and greener for the 21st century?

The team’s extensive research found several problem areas with traditional water dispensers, from hygiene, user experience, sustainability, to re-ordering and storage of water. Taking a holistic approach, these insights were used to improve every aspect of the experience. Innovations such as moving away from plastic bottled water, touchless interface, storage and refrigeration, inventing new mechanisms, and cloud connectivity for smart distribution and recycling, resulted in a solution set to transform the water cooler market. 


Designing for better hygiene 

The Well Water’s unique bag and box design means that every box has its own tap, guaranteeing clean and uncontaminated water with every pour, with no water left to stagnate in the chambers of the machine. An innovative new mechanism was designed and engineered to ensure the machine never touches the water, making the passage from the box to cup more hygienic than traditional coolers. As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the machine is completely touchless – detecting your hand’s proximity to operate. The surfaces and materials are designed to be uncluttered and easy to clean or sanitize. By doing this, we’ve further reduced the risk of any contamination in a busy office.  


Holistic service design

Water coolers have used large plastic bottles that need to be sanitized and refilled back at the water plant, making the process unsustainable over long distances and logistically complex. By using a bag and box system, a greater volume can be transported more efficiently than plastic bottles, and the boxes can be folded and entered straight into recycling streams. We’ve also simplified the service and distribution model by using cloud connectivity. Each cooler has a weighing platform that communicates to the supplier how many liters of water are left. Once you’re low on water, new boxes are dispensed and delivered so you never run out. This saves admin staff time in organizing new deliveries and means there will be a constant flow of water in the office.  

A modular design system

The boxes are lighter than traditional bottles, and they are rectangular rather than cylindrical, making them far easier to store and transport. The lighter boxes reduce any ergonomic risks to employees. We included a storage cabinet with a weighing platform to efficiently store the boxes and the cooler is beautifully designed to fit any modern office environment. We’ve provided the option to change the color of the front glass panel to match their environment or brand aesthetic. Unlike any other cooler, the Well Water has a 7” screen, allowing for information, branding, or advertising to be displayed. The unit is split into two parts; the top section is the cooler, and the bottom section is storage with the connected weighing platform. This modular thinking has allowed for a countertop version for offices that don’t have the space available for a freestanding machine.  


The Outcome

The Well Water cooler has been designed to solve many of the problems of conventional water coolers, which have remained mostly unchanged over the last 20 years. The business model in place is much more efficient, sustainable, and scalable. Companies have access to clean and hygienic water, while the hassle of constantly ordering new bottles has disappeared with the use of smart technology. It’s an innovative solution set to disrupt the water cooler market by meeting modern standards of hygiene, flexibility and overall product experience. This project has been awarded the Good Design Award by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

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Great innovation is achieved through collaboration. We would love to hear about your business & creative challenges and how we can help you create innovative, new product experiences.