Redesign on the Fly: 5 Fresh Zippers Improve Upon Traditional Fasteners

Designers are always trying to reinvent the chair or improve the shoe, but zippers have stayed largely the same for a long time, which begs the question: is there room to innovate on this simple fastener?

Nendo has designed a series of alternatives titled Zippppper for manufacturer YKK. Their work challenges the notion that a traditional set of interlocking teeth is all zippers have to offer a piece of apparel or other material product.

The team wanted to do more than change the color, size or handle. “In lieu of focusing on superficial finishings or decorations, it was important to take a step back and delve into the fundamental question, ‘what exactly is a zipper?'”

They are made to close gaps and open easily, but beyond that there are a lot of possibilities. Their solutions include: (1) a three-way zipper that could be used for things like interior tent partitions, (2) a version with a gap to let through headphones or cords, (3) a one-handed variant with a rotating easy-grip clip, (4) a right-angled set of intersecting zippers and (5) a self-connected loop (purpose unknown).

“The basic concept of a zipper is to open and close the opening between two pieces of material without any gaps,” explain the designers, “but by thoroughly assessing each component individually and through further reassessment – five new zippers were created.” Really, though: any zipper that doesn’t stick would be an improvement.