Funnels as Dispensers: Improvised solutions becoming products...

It's a well-known phenomenon in the product design world that many of the best products have been very well developed by users who have improvised them before they they were ever offered as purchasable commodities. This is especially true for products that are very specifically suited for a particular activity or trade - when passionate users need something that works perfectly for a particular task, they'll make it themselves.

The use of funnels to dispense twine, ribbon, yarn, or other balled-or-rolled stringy stuff seems to be such a case. It reportedly came from Martha Stewart (according the post on Curbly, via Lifehacker), who certainly qualifies as a passionate, experienced practitioner of home convenience and crafts. Without question, this improvised solution is itself clever - especially for the niche subset of people who (1) use many different kinds of stringy stuff (2) very often, and (3) have a dedicated space in the home for those kinds of crafts. And lo and behold, it's become a product - thanks to IKEA, who now offers the specialized funnels shown on the right of the image for exactly this purpose. Improvised solutions by passionate users can definitely lead to great products - even at the risk of putting detached product designers out of work!

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