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Brief Published: 3 Aug 2015

Back to School: Staples x Students


US-based Staples has launched a range of back-to-school products designed in collaboration with middle-school students. The office-supply retailer worked with groups of Atlanta- and Brooklyn-based students to create a range of designs that find solutions to their everyday needs.

  • Adding extra functionality to a school essential, a prism-shaped pencil case features a magnetic wrap closure that folds out to create a stand for books or small devices, such as tablets. For more playful, yet practical redesigns of everyday products, see our A/W 16-17 Design Direction Layer.
  • A compact portable desk features a smooth hard surface for writing, with a foam cushion support that enables it to sit comfortably on the user's lap. Designed to be used anywhere, it is particularly likely to appeal to those growing up in smaller homes without space for a desk. Organised interior compartments separate notebooks and stationery from headphones and power cords.
  • Cleverly designed floating shelves maximise locker storage by providing four distinct sections for storing school supplies. The triangular spaces are created by a zig-zagged folded sheet for easy-to-fit storage that requires no permanent fixings – suitable for temporary situations such as school or renting.

By involving students in the design process, Staples is able to crowdsource ideas and ensure it is meeting the needs of its consumers. This unconventional approach particularly appeals to younger generations who value involvement with brands – a mindset outlined in Gen Z: Tech Titans. For similar schemes that harness young consumers as creatives within the product development process, see Toy Worlds: Targeting Gen 'Me'.

For further insight into the shifting relationship between designer and consumer, see The Future is Here: A New Industrial Revolution and Design Democracy: Outsider. For more on consumers influencing in-store products, see our recent blog post Fan Votes Shape Topshop's Archive Collection.

For more back-to-school seasonal coverage see Target: Back-to-School Digi-Style