In addition to literally breaking more than a few handles, the sporks we’ve always used seemed to make unnecessary physical trade offs, resulting in a less than optimal eating experience. In shape, many sporks just have a few stubby prongs grafted to the lip of a spoon. The result? A woefully short and barely-functional fork, and a spoon that drips liquid down your chin.
Spork innovators of past generations recognized these existential shortcomings of the traditional spork, so some of them chose to place the fork and spoon on opposite ends of the utensil. While this in itself may be seen as an improvement, the innovation didn’t go much further beyond simple styling refinement. It seemed like the spork was an old concept overdue for a fresh spin.
We design “things” for a living, and in doing so we are - for better or worse - obsessed with imagining the possibilities of how “things” could be different - or even better. Good design is about creating something that works well for the person using it, regardless of what that thing is. Even sporks.
Past evolutions of spork technology still failed to solve some of the snarf-limiting utensil deficiencies facing modern-day food eaters, especially card-carrying members of the Clean Plates Club. The sporks, forks, and spoons of the past simply didn’t work very well for scraping every last bit of food. The rounded shape of most spoons made it difficult to reach into sharp corners, and also made it ineffective for scraping large flat surfaces.
When you’re carrying every calorie atop your shoulders, every last bite counts. The more we thought about it, the more we were convinced that we could develop a unique utensil shape that could simply make eating just a bit easier. It might look unconventional - or even silly - but we were darn sure that it would work better than the utensils we’d been using.
We realized that we were constantly trying to scrape every last bite of food, but the utensils we were using weren’t very effective scraping tools. So that became a functional requirement of Morsel, as did the extended length and the safe serrated edge.
We started by studying all the utensils we could find, zip-tying utensils together and excitedly sharing any new utensils we stumbled across. We argued about shapes and ergonomics and perceptions and oh-so-much-more.
Morsel evolved from literal napkin sketches over beers, to crude clay shapes, to even-cruder 3d-prints. We had to nail down the general size and shape before Alex took over the stylistic reigns. After rounds of creative sketching, Alex spent hours sanding and filing foam blocks to study shapes before moving on to 3D CAD, where Morsel evolved into its final form.
In parallel with early design phases, we had to evaluate a multitude of different manufacturing possibilities. We knew we wanted a strong spork with a rubbery edge, but beyond that we were flexible (pun intended). We finally arrived at a conventional injection molding process using BPA-Free, FDA food-grade materials, and we found a US-based factory to help us with production.
Morsel’s Kickstarter campaign finally launched in early 2018 with a bang, after over a year of spork development. Word got around, and in the end nearly 5400 backers helped us make Morsel a reality. It was amazing to see all of the organic support and interest Morsel received, and our successful Kickstarter helped us validate the fact that we weren’t crazy for devoting so much time and energy into such an unassuming product.
In our case, that was a better spork. While it’s important to listen to the feedback and thoughts of others, it’s also important not to get sucked into designing the product that people think they want.
A well-designed product should be something that you didn’t know you wanted until you saw it, because until that moment you hadn’t considered that such a solution might exist. That was our goal with Morsel - to create a utensil that simply works better, in ways you never imagined a utensil would.
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Your favorite gear gives you that extra edge – perhaps it is tougher, lighter or more full-featured than its predecessors. Can you attribute that same level performance to your camping utensils?