Housewares Design Awards

2004 Best in Category: Kitchen Hand Tools


Good Grips I-series Jar Opener

Oxo International has been developing gadgets with an emphasis on ergonomic design for nearly 15 years, but the company continues to challenge itself by looking to improve its products.

“Design is essential to our business strategy. We find the user pet peeves and come up with solutions for them,” explained Alex Lee, president/Oxo International. He continued, “Everything at Oxo is extremely sensitive to user problems.”

Improve It

Oxo’s Good Grips i-Series Jar Opener, recently honored at the Housewares Design Awards in the kitchenware category, is an example of one of the products the company greatly improved upon. “The jar opener has been out for 10 years, but we wanted to find out what’s wrong with it and improve it,” he said.

What Oxo found, said Lee, was that it was harder to open a large jar with its original Good Grips opener. Oxo wanted to design a jar opener that could work in all circumstances, and the I-Series Jar Opener— featuring stainless-steel teeth to grip a jar— works equally well for everything from small condiment bottles to large jars of mayonnaise. The company also added a non-slip base pad to place the jar on, keeping it stable and reducing the force needed to open a jar.

Even when a product is successful, Oxo doesn’t like to rest on its laurels. “Our goal is to take the top 10 best-selling products and see how we can make them better,” said Lee. “We don’t want to get complacent.”

Lee pointed out that Oxo has several criteria for its products. “The product is driven by usability and function,” explained Lee. “After satisfying that, we design a product that’s thought-provoking in appearance. We want the design to be self-explanatory so people can answer questions about the product themselves.”

The company’s designs need to make a strong statement at retail, according to Lee. “We’re in a category that’s relatively small. We can’t spend millions to tell a story,” he said. “We rely on point of purchase and for the products to speak for themselves.”

However, Oxo does use packaging to let consumers know about some of the distinctive details of its products. “We try to use packaging to call out the unique features of a product,” Lee said.

When developing its functional products, Oxo looks beyond the present salability of an item, and focuses on creating a long-term strategy for the products. “One of the most powerful things of good design is that it allows you to create value for the products and brands in the long term,” noted Lee.

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