A Madrid design firm debuts its odd-looking head pillow on Kickstarter--days before new guidelines seek to limit finished products.
In April 2011, Studio Banana designed the Ostrich Pillow--an oddly-shaped oversized pillow that covers a user's entire head (but not his mouth and nose)--to, er, mixed reviews.
When the Ostrich Pillow appeared on design blog Swissmiss on January 19, it elicited the following comments from site visitors:
"But how do I breath in this thing?"
"Is it April 1 already?"
"It would give me claustrophobia!"
"If I use that on my next flight, would anyone sleep also or just die laughing?"
"Does it come in dunce?"
But shortly after, Internet users emailed Studio Banana, the design firm in Madrid that developed the odd-looking Ostrich Pillows, to find out if they were for sale.
Now, seventeen months later, Studio Banana has a method to truly test the market viability of its headwrap power nap pillow--and simultaneously, perhaps, allay fears of asphyxiation.
"We thought the best channel would be Kickstarter," Banana Studio co-founder Ali Ganjavian says. "One, if people really wanted it, it would get the funding. And if people really want it, it means it's a special product. It's replying to two questions; A) 'Can you get the funding?' and B) 'Do people really want it?' We could've attempted to take out a loan and try to produce it, but you've got no guarantee that the world outside actually wants it as much as you think it wants it."
The Ostrich Pillow debuted two days before Kickstarter revised its guidelines to prevent companies from selling finished products and from offering more than one unit as a reward to each backer.
It's projects like the Ostrich Pillow--which crowd-source consumer product demand, rather than finance innovation or creativity--that Kickstarter says it no longer wants on its site.
"We're introducing a number of changes to reinforce that Kickstarter isn't a store," Kickstarter founders Charles Adler, Perry Chen, and Yancey Strickler said in a joint blog post on September 12.
A slew of Kickstarter retail-type projects have also come under fire for not being able to deliver on time. Ganjavian says he is optimistic he'll be able to manufacture and ship more than 1,300 pillows that have been pre-ordered from around the world. He says he's been in touch with manufacturers for six months.
So far, the Ostrich Pillow has received more than $95,000 in Kickstarter donations since it went live on September 18, and it has exceeded its original goal of $70,000. About 60% of the Ostrich Pillow pre-orders (up to 10 a pop) came from U.S.-based customers; the rest were from Europe and Australia.
JOHN MCDERMOTT is a business and culture reporter whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Playboy and on AOL.com. He recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn, New York, to work for Inc.com. @J_M_McDermott