As designers, we have a habit, or rather a responsibility, of challenging the status quo. Be it something as ubiquitous as the credit card, or even the fire-hydrant, an icon that hasn’t seen as much as a redesign in near a century, the designer’s job is always to think of ways to make the product perform better, either for its immediate users, or for prospective users.
The red fire hydrant is literally an icon. When you find something as mundane as a hydrant entering into pop culture because of its design, and its widespread nature, you’ve got yourself an archetype. Changing the archetype can be as tricky as rebranding a company (for the better or for the worse), but if done in a way that helps users rather than just exacting change, the redesign works. Take for instance Dimitri Nassisi’s Drinking Hydrant. Designed to do exactly what the name says, the Drinking Hydrant turns the usually useless fire hydrant into a watering hole, not just for humans, but animals too. Giving the city access to drinking water (and not just firefighting water), the Drinking Hydrant comes with a much longer design, two spouts, and a two-way switch that allows you to either trigger the water-fountain spout for human consumption, or the spout at the other end, which pours water into a bowl for animals to drink through. Designed to fulfill its role as a fire hydrant too, it comes with the standardized firefighting water-hose outlet that firemen can tap into to extinguish flames.
Meant to hydrate in possibly a more holistic sense, the Drinking Hydrant asks an important question in why must a certain product look the way it is, and more importantly, why must its design and function be limited and taken for granted? The new design and function bestowed upon the hydrant don’t take away from the product’s current role (although it does mean losing its iconic design), but rather add to it, allowing civilians to avail of amenities like free drinking water from an already existing water-source… and if that also helps cut down the need to buy those darned plastic bottles, well, let’s just call it a success!
Designer: Dimitri Nassisi