Pengu was born out of empathy for those diagnosed with cancer. It is heartbreaking and life-changing at any age, but more so when you are a teenager or young adult (TYA) because it takes away from their chance at having a normal developmental trajectory during a phase of life that is crucial for social, cognitive, and emotional development. Pengu was designed to improve the quality of life for TYA cancer patients on hospital leave or in remission by helping them feel and live a little more independently.
At this age, usually, a TYA patient would be moving out for school, getting their own space, experimenting with career options, and more but it all comes to a giant pause as their life suddenly revolves around health appointments. The constant monitoring and check-ups are bound to make anyone feel like they don’t have control over their life, and especially with a disease like cancer, so Pengu – a water bottle and pill holder hybrid – is a small product that can make a big impact by giving them a little control back. It helps to smoothly facilitate two critical things for the patient – taking their medication on time and hydrating enough. These two tasks are things the best of us forget all the time, but it is something vital for a patient’s recovery and therefore can’t be missed. With Pengu, the user will not have to feel conscious about having a big pillbox and the medicines will be easier to access compared to being in their bags. When the user starts to streamline their own basic needs of taking medication and drinking water, it starts to slowly build back their confidence about being able to leave home and readjust to life outside cancer. Besides, Pengu is sleek, minimal, and stylish so it takes away the feeling of “people are watching me when I have my pills.”
The name might hint on the fact that the form was inspired by the emperor penguin and their chick. “The subtle ribbed touch points on each side represent the flippers, whilst the shut line of the lid represents the beak. The pill holder slots into the base of the bottle, similarly to how the penguin would shield its chick from the cold,” explains Spence. Even the CMF was thoughtfully picked out to mimic the water-resistant feathers of the penguin. The jet black color is bold yet minimal and the bottle is powder-coated in stainless steel for sturdiness and insulation. Since it is still a concept, it would be fun to see if there was a digital element to it like subtle reminders to hydrate or take pills. The penguin is a symbol of resilience – no matter how harsh the storm, they must keep moving forward to survive and it is a beautiful reminder to those fighting cancer every day.
Designer: Shane Spence