By accident or by design

| Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on February 25, 2016

Necessity the mother of invention



Say product design and chances are that you would immediately think of Apple. What would you think of next? The Coca-Cola bottle? It dates back to 1915 when the company asked its bottle suppliers to come up with a look that would be unique and instantly recognisable even in the dark.

Earl R. Dean, the designer, took inspiration from the cocoa pod to make the bottle.

The Mini Cooper’s form sprung from curbs on fuel supply caused by the Suez crisis during the 1950s. Designer Alec Issigonis had to design a car that was more fuel-efficient than the other cars of the day, to compete with popular German bubble cars such as the original VW Beetle, which is itself a design classic. The original design became a true British icon.

In the world of invention, much of discovery is an accident.

So is the history behind the Post-It Note. Its inventor, Spenser Silver, was trying to develop a super-strong adhesive but accidentally created something that could be applied, removed and reapplied without spoiling the object it was applied on. 3M launched the product as Press n’ Peel in 1977 but later changed the name.

Famous in the West, the Burberry trench coat was intended as an alternative to the heavy coats British and French soldiers wore in World War I.

The garment was an optional part of the uniform for officers, but it was not permitted to be worn by any other rank.

It is a raincoat made of waterproof heavy-duty cotton gabardine drill, or leather, or poplin. It was originally an item of clothing for Army officers, made before the war but adapted for use in the trenches of the First World War. Because of its original role as a staple for military officers, the trench coat gained respectability as businesswear. Another British brand, Aquascutum, also laid claim to inventing the trench coat.

The safety pin owes its creation to a debt. In 1849, Walter Hunt, a mechanic and inventor, was mulling over how to pay his friend $15 back while playing with a length of wire.

He then noticed that when coiled and hooked to itself, the wire held enough spring to be unclasped and clasped over and over. He patented the device and then sold the patent for $400 to W.R. Grace and Company to pay off the debt to his friend.

Compiled by Sravanthi Challapalli

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Published on February 25, 2016
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