We love it when a student project takes off, going from the concept realm to being realized into an actual product… more so when it’s a medical/social-awareness project! The Flo is a wonderful product that creates an easy, efficient, discreet, and healthy system for women and girls in rural areas to wash, dry, and store their sanitary pads.
The social stigma around menstruation still exists even today in rural areas, to the extent that girls often avoid going to school while on their period, lest they be teased or shamed. Even worse, only 10% of families can afford to buy reusable sanitary pads (most families rely on rags and scraps of cloth), and the families that do purchase sanitary pads refrain from washing them properly or drying them out in the sun, under fear of allowing the rest of the society to see them. Flo creates a complete system for storing, carrying, washing, and drying sanitary napkins in a way that is efficient, engaging, and discreet, in an attempt to slowly remove the stigma behind menstruation while making sure the girls stay healthy, at an affordable price.
Rather than being a revolutionary sanitary pad (there are too many, say the designers behind Flo), the Flo is instead an entire kit, going all the way from a playful washing apparatus, to a concealed utility belt for carrying used and new pads, all the way to a box in which washed pads can be dried and fresh pads can be stored. We’re especially in love with the washing apparatus that uses plain physics (torsion) to spin a tiny drum at high speeds, effectively washing as well as drying used pads. The apparatus is hand operated and can be done solo, using virtually no energy!
The Flo is a beautiful and elegant solution that works because it looks at the entire problem right in the eye. Rather than redesigning the pad (which many people have tried over years), or trying to change society’s perception (which requires incredible amounts of time and patience), the Flo just provides a highly affordable solution that works perfectly in the present scenario, allowing young girls to stay healthy, comfortable, confident, and definitely not miss out on school and life!
The Flo is a winner of the IDEA award (Gold), and has also secured the prestigious James Dyson Award.
Designers: Mariko Higaki Iwai, Sohyun Kim, Tatijana Vasily, Charlotte Wong & Benjamin Freedman