A Post-it Pad makes a great Cup Coaster

I slipped early into a meeting right before it was about to start with a cup of hot tea in my hand. My second for the day, freshly brewed and in a freshly washed cup. Not wanting to create wet rings on the wooden table, I unconsciously did the same thing I usually do, I used a post-it pad as my coaster.
My colleague next to me, pointed to the cup and asked me, “you use a post-it pad as a coaster?”.
It dawned on me, why not? A post-it pad is the perfect coaster! It’s the perfect size for a cup, and it’s thick enough to insulate the table top from my hot cup. Also if you have spilled beverage from a full cup collecting at the cup’s base, you would just need to peel away and dispose the stained sheet of wet rings, and you have a fresh coaster top!
Only problem is that post-it pads are not waterproof and tend to soak up the wet stains creating crinkly and warped pads or sheets. Perhaps I should start a project creating recyclable post-it pads made up of thicker paper or plastic sheets? What do you think, would you buy one?
Ah, the joy of creative exercises for the mind.

  • Michael

    May 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm Reply

    i love design accidents…alot like the unplanned invention of post-it notes in the first place…that IS a good point…are people so involved, that they neglect to see the waste from something as seemingly simple as a post-it note?
    Perhaps post-it notes with possible re-uses printed on them ina sort of “cradle-to-cradle” like principle. Much like a mintie wrapper persay?
    I just realised, the average “life-span” of a post-it note must be no more than a few hours or so. Life does suck to be a post-it note if you think about it. You spend the early days unnoticed till one day you are revealed to the world only to be graffitied upon with the words “kick me” and stuck on someones sweaty back, only to be ripped off, crumpled, disposed of and never thought of again.

    • DT

      May 26, 2009 at 1:31 pm Reply

      Hi Michael,
      That is interesting. Perhaps we should print a bunch of post-it pads with the words “kick me” already on it! I really happy that this post has inspired people to think about the success of the design of simple everyday products.

  • David

    May 17, 2009 at 9:21 pm Reply

    Very interesting.
    What is it that attracts you so much to this abuse of an existing product?
    This could be down to a number of factors:

  • Arjan

    May 15, 2009 at 5:08 pm Reply

    I think it is an essential capacity for any designer to notice these little thoughless acts. You will never find these acts through user normal user reasearch. A high dose of curiosity is the only way to spot these things.
    When you start looking at the world like this, you’ll be amazed at how many things like this you do!

  • Ling

    May 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm Reply

    I meant – post it (hah) at IDEO’s “Thoughtless Acts” pool…

  • Daniel Loves Objects

    May 14, 2009 at 9:59 am Reply

    Hi Design sojourn,
    Thank you for the many wonderful topics you have put up at your site, they are wonderful and i strongly believe that many ppl including myself benefited greatly from it.
    Yeah, i like the topic you’ve kick start here about how much post-it pads can go, things like these have discreetly creep into our life, being part of us and we are also a “parasite” to them as much as to them on us, even now there already 2 stuck on the edge of my monitor. Not surprisingly that they are found on our office tabletops while we are aggressively engaging in discussion, having a hot coffee by our side and yeah, relying on them to do what we know best is natural since they have a good shape and thickness and relatively not expensive, so it they get damaged, it doesn’t hurt.
    And i also like the discussion that drove into the topics of them being stained and if we were to do otherwise like having them “waterproof”, cost would be driven high and who knows at the end of the day, the cost may kill the need for them to act as a coaster, not anymore.
    Probably small simple steps can be achieved by just having only the first page to have a desirable thickness and made “waterproof”. Design aesthetics can be furthered explored and the rest of the underlying pages remained original to their true existence. Once the yellow pages runs out, the top page which is the good one can still be retained and serve purposefully as a coaster, this gives value to the product after all. Over the season, different top page can be customized and personalized with ranges of design available. This would hopefully build up a “fan-base”. Even right now, 3M has move from the usual yellow to the bright pink and green for better marketability. Value is the key.
    I hope this would start off another brainstorming session… Thanks for all the time!
    With Love,
    Daniel Loves Objects
    & DesignSojourn

  • DT

    May 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm Reply

    Hi Ryan,
    Yep, I would imagine that fluro yellow would be perfect. I think they will be likely thicker squares, that are reusable and writable. The stick edges allow you to re-stack them when you are done with the coaster.
    Thanks for the link, but if you follow the comments, it is not exactly what I am looking at.

  • Dan

    May 11, 2009 at 3:10 pm Reply

    Check out this – http://www.ponoko.com/showroom/RelativeDesign/coast-it-2425
    Relative Design had a go at doing this already.

  • ryanmaher4130

    May 11, 2009 at 11:31 am Reply

    that makes sense, but, how would they maintain “post-itness”? Would they be the trademark yellow? or would they just be post-it like in the sense that they are thin squares of material. also how would they stay in their stack?
    p.s. I love your blog. Your insights helped me decide to pursue industrial design when I had no idea what I wanted to do. I have been reading it religiously for at least a year. keep up the good work.

  • DT

    May 11, 2009 at 10:35 am Reply

    or it could be washable stack of plastic sheets that you could re-stack back into a pad?
    Interesting, people don’t seem to be concerned of all the “waste” created by real post-it pads?

  • ryanmaher4130

    May 11, 2009 at 7:41 am Reply

    I think that post it notes are great coasters but if you make disposable coasters aren’t you just creating more expensive post it note coasters? maybe if there was a post it note shaped permanent coaster that acted as a sheath for an actual pack of post its.

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