HUMAN KIND
PORTFOLIO Magazine|Portfolio Magazine - July 2020
HUMAN KIND
Kindness runs through pandemics and N95 masks.
POON KING WANG

Via a bra cup.

In 1961, the company 3M released a new surgical mask made from its new non-woven fibers. Standard masks press flatly and uncomfortably against the nose and mouth. With this unique mask, its bubble shape creates adequate space for the wearer to breathe better.

It was no coincidence that this bubble mask resembled a bra cup. It was inspired by it. 3M has worked with a consulting designer who had developed 100 novel ideas to take advantage of the company’s groundbreaking non-woven polymer fabrics. One of those ideas, which she was subsequently asked to work on, was a new molded bra cup design.

This designer – whom the Metropolis magazine in 2000 called “corporate America’s secret weapon” – was Sara Little Turnbull. And she was a “master of the ‘creative accident’”.

The specific creative accident that married mask to bra started with distress but ended with kindness. At that point in Turnbull’s life, she was in and out of hospitals a lot. Her family members were ill, and she was caring for them. She was hence no stranger to the existing masks, and how their discomfort aggravated the grief, giving neither solace nor comfort.

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Portfolio Magazine - July 2020