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Kura: steel sponge handle



The Kura (from the Japanese "sukurabu", to scrub) was created for an upper level product development class at the SFSU School of Design. The original design challenge was to re-design an existing kitchen tool to be more user-friendly.

I chose to redesign a dish scrub brush, but as is often the case, the immersive research for one problem often finds a more important problem. 


  • Team of one

  • Two week schedule

  • $100 budget


In watching people wash dishes, and listening to their complaints, and subsequently doing the tasks myself, the following issues were identified:

  1. Metal pots and pans, particularly steel, are very hard to clean with conventional sponges and brushes

  2. Cleaning steel is easy with a stainless steel sponge

  3. People are uncomfortable using a steel sponge

Ideation and prototyping:​

Rapid listing was used to brainstorm potential solutions, which quickly lead to the concept of an ergonomic holder that would create an effective and comfortable pot scrubber.

Rapid sketch ideation followed, then rapid prototyping with foam to test ergonomics with users.

User feedback narrowed the forms, which were then prototyped on a lathe with wood.

Further feedback lead to the final iteration which was 3D printed from a cork/PLA filament on a PRUSA i3.

Interesting insight:

Original ideation assumed that intricate contours to fit the hand would be most comfortable for the user, but testing revealed that a smooth cylindrical shape was actually the most preferred.

Subsequent testing revealed that very small differences in diameter and shape had a large effect on comfort. The resulting form, though appearing simple, is actually the result of very extensive refinement from user testing.

410 Product Poster final.png
Steel Sponge 1.jpg
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CAD DES410P1.jpg
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