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© 2019 created by MARA LEHMANN


School project, industrial design|Year: March-May 2018

This assignment during Product Design I class was to redesign beach coolers based on the following design requirements: 

  1. The cooler must be able to carry and keep chilled enough food and drinks for a day at the beach

  2. Address the problem of transportation: across sand, rock, pavement, grass. From 1/2 miles to 2 miles, fully loaded and returned empty

  3. Adress ergonomics of lifting in and out of the car

  4. Should be durable and last several years


A sustainable, modular beach cooler for every-day use

During product and user research I uncovered two main issues: the beach coolers are too heavy and too big to carry, and the materials used are most often not sustainable.


Therefore I had two goals: 1) find sustainable, insulating materials, with the same or better properties than what’s conventionally used and 2) make it easy to transport, suitable for multiple purposes and an every-day object


I chose to make a modular cooler: a cooler box on wheels which can be attached to a cooler backpack. 


The material for the cooler box is sustainable, natural and biodegradable grown from mycelium. Tests show that the insulating properties are better than styrofoam! 

The backpack is made of cork fabric (the kind that doesn’t use any harmful adhesives), plus one compartment with shredded mycelium lining / filling. 

Selection of observations and insights

25 interviews

10 observations in the field

Ideation development and a selection of sketches

I was inspired by the pole's cool temperatures and in the beginning sketched modular arctic and antarctic animal shaped coolers, as well as more geometric shapes. Abandoned the animal inspired shapes, but kept the modularity and developed the arctic inspiration into the use of ice crystals as the form and ice bergs as the color palette.

Product details

Common ice crystals are symmetrical and have a hexagonal pattern. The Blue Ice cooler box features a subtle version of this pattern found in nature. 

The colour is inspired by floating ice bergs. 

Ocean: Dark blue

Iceberg: White

Meltwater: Turquoise

From user research I discovered that people don’t always need the same amount of volume and that transportability is important.


I therefore designed a modular cooler: a box on wheels like a small suitcase with a telescopic handle, and the second part as a cooler backpack.

The backpack can be attached to the box and be carried like a backpack or rolled like a suitcase.