IDEAS: The Honest Egg story

BY EDWARD ONG

At the 2018 Lexus Design Awards, ‘Honest Egg’ by Aesthetid took home the people’s choice award. The winner was determined by votes cast by the public on the competition website.

The work, shortlisted from 1,319 entries worldwide, made Aesthetid the first South East Asian winner of the prestigious competition. I got in touch with the owners about their most egg-cellent performance.

 “Lay it on the line.” I said. “Tell us about Aesthetid”

“We’re Industrial Designers,” replied Paul Yong, Director and Co-founder of the agency based in Gelang Patah, Johor. “We bring technology, business, and design together to create meaningful value-added experiences.”

Objective:

“How did the idea for Honest Egg come about?”

“The theme for the 2018 competition was ‘CO-‘, a Latin prefix meaning together or in partnership, to combine one element with another. The task was to find a harmonious co-existence between nature and society through design,” said Paul. “We wanted to find a solution for everyday problems.”

“And you decided to focus on eggs,” I added. “Specifically, how to tell if an egg has gone bad before you crack the shell.”

“Well, it’s a little more than that,” revealed Paul. “We wanted to reduce food wastage through transparency in design. US1 trillion worth of food are wasted every year. Roughly half of which takes place at home. We wanted an idea/solution that everybody can relate with.”

Challenge:

“We didn’t start with eggs,” said Paul. “We started with egg packaging.

These things are usually terribly confusing – you have the manufacturer date, the best-by date, the expiry date, miscellaneous numbers, and so on. Consumers just want to know: Are the eggs are fresh?

Yes, all the necessary info is printed on the packaging – something that is promptly discarded when the consumer gets home.

We know that eggs can stay fresh for up to 60 days. But we don’t always know or check how long it’s been in the supermarket. 3 days? 4 weeks? 5 weeks?”

Truth:

“Why does the idea need to exist at all?” I asked. “You can shake the egg, smell it, see if it floats or something to tell whether it’s fresh. In fact, if it starts chirping and walking around on two legs – it’s probably way past the expiry date.”

“You can do that. But what if you have more than one egg or a baker’s dozen or more? People just want to open the fridge, take out the eggs and make whatever they’re going to make.”

Answer:

“There are also plastic stickers that you can place on the egg that change colour if the egg goes bad,“ reiterated Paul. “We wanted something more bio-degradable and eco-friendly, and came up with the idea of a bio-ink.

This bio-ink is made from natural microbes and a stabiliser. The ink is stamped on the egg and can be pre-programmed to appear at a specific date. You’ll see nothing at first and this means the egg is fresh. But let’s say the egg is going to expire on Day 30. On Day 28, it can show you a ‘meh face’ that means  means you better consume it before it goes bad. And if the egg has a dead face – an x where its eyes used to be – well, that means you probably shouldn’t eat the egg.”

“Can we throw it at people we don’t like?” Paul, however, pretended not to hear the question. He talked about the competition and his plans for the company.

During the time of writing, Honest Egg is a concept that exists only on paper. The egg is really only a medium. The idea is a printed intelligent ink pigment that changes colour in response to a pre-calibrated time period. In theory, this can be applied onto other food products as well.

Aesthetid is currently in discussion with a local university to realise the work, which could take months, or years even. Check out aesthetid.com or the company’s FB page for updates on the project.

In the meantime, if you need to know whether your egg is good or bad, place it in a bowl of water. If it sinks, it’s fresh and edible. If it starts to stand, it’s still good. If it floats to the top, throw it away. If the water turns green, or makes strange, unearthly sounds, get your camera ready.

Edward Ong is on a quest to discover and create Malaysia’s best ideas.
He is an award-winning Writer and Creative Director, and can be found at IdeasAreBorderless.com

This article first appeared in MARKETING magazine Issue#235.
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