Semiotics Case Study: Bread Bags (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of my semiotics case study. Read part 1 here

Problem Identification

As seen in part 1 of my post, the existing bread bags are not very effective in usage and function. What I want to achieve for this project is to create a reusable bread bag that has as many functions as possible.

Demographic of Users

The market segment that I am interested in are the people who care about the environment and want to support small, local businesses. To reach this demographic, I believe that my bags should be sold and promoted by the bakeries that also align with the shoppers’ values.

I believe that the future of grocery shopping, including bread, will have less packaging. Having no packaging is actually the most effective way at displaying the bread. Similar to the deli section, baked goods should all be sold behind a counter.

terra-breads-600x300

Shoppers will have the option of using their bag, similar to how you can bring a reusable mug to a coffee shop. When shoppers bring their reusable bread bags, it actually supports the bakery because not having packaging lowers costs and increases profit margin. Furthermore, shoppers get to choose the colour and design of their reusable bag so they are more likely to continue using it in the future.

Exploration / Conceptualisation

I compile a list of functions for the ideal bread bag based on the research of existing bags.

  • Easy to clean, reusable
  • Protection from contamination and moisture
  • Some moisture wicking
  • Visibility of contents
  • Easy to carry to and from the store

After some sketches, I came up with the concept that would best satisfy all the requirements of an ideal bread bag:bag3

Prototyping and Testing

My first thought when it came to reusable bags was that they should be make of cloth. Fabric such as cotton would be very easy to wash. I was able to get a loaf of bread from the bakery put in to the bag. The fit was very good, so the dimensions will be kept for future prototypes. The bag was difficult to carry, so I had to consider adding a handle of some kind.

I have also previously dabbed at making a baguette bag, but it didn’t turn out as I had expected. The bag dimensions were fine – it fit 2 baguettes. The strap was not adjustable, and was sewn in at one side. This caused the bag to sag and sway around in the wind.

The main problem I had with these cotton bags was mold. Despite being breathable, the bread sample left in the cloth bags started to mold, and the mold spread to the cotton bag. The bags had to be soaked in vinegar to wash out the mold, and even afterwards, I didn’t feel comfortable using the bags anymore. The potential for mold on natural textiles can be a barrier, so I decided to try different materials.

Proposed Design

My proposed design concept is a reusable bread shopping bag that shoppers will bring with them when bread shopping. This design would satisfy all of the criteria set earlier.

The bag is made from 2 waterproof fabrics. The opaque material needs to be moisture wicking and breathable so that excess moisture from the bread can leave the bag. However, it is waterproof so no water will enter. The clear material will provide visibility for the bread inside.

Both bag designs offer more affordances than the existing bags in the market. The bread loaf bag has a roll-top closure system that can be used to adjust the size of the bag. If the bread inside is smaller, the shopper can roll down more before closing. The roll-top design also creates a handle. This affords the user to carry in their hand, or it can be worn on the forearm, freeing up the hand. The baguette bag can be carried on one shoulder, or cross-body. The strap can be adjusted to the right tightness.

This design would keep bread fresh longer by keeping moisture and contamination and out, while wicking existing moisture away from the bread. The bag itself will also stay in circulation longer; by reusing the bag, shoppers help keep plastic bags out of landfills. And if they like the bag, they are more likely to continue using it.

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