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soap stand for schools in rural communities 


Jury Special Award INDEX: Design Challenge 2010


Soap Shish is a modular soap stand for schools in the developing countries. Inspired by an ‘abacus’ and using the colourful and slippery features of a soap, Soap Shish attracts kids to play with it, and at the same time, to clean their hands. The concept of was prototyped in South Korea and Ghana to see children's interest.


Patent #10-127156 issued in South Korea 


photo by UNICEF
photo by Lily Muldoon
Traditional Soap Making
Photo by Dennis Thern
Traditional Soap Making
UNICEF Problem Definition
Research Findings
Redefining the design brief

UNICEF reports that the soap bars distributed to rural schools get LOST, MELT or STOLEN before children can benefit.



‘Washing my hands takes time from my playtime. I have to do it alone instead of playing with my friends,’ says students.



How might we design a hand washing experience that is attractive for children and that protects the soap in schools?

Soap Shish: a huge abacus of soaps

Soap Shish design is inspired by abacus, an existing toy used in education. Soap bars and small toys are carried by bamboo or wooden shishes that stand on top of each other. 


Soap Shish can be used by a couple of students at the same time. Soaps can be moved LEFT and RIGHT, UP and DOWN.

Soap Shish: local production

Soap bars have been produced by people for ages using natural resources such as shea fruit and plantains. A specific wooden Soap Shish mould enables any length of stick tobe used to make any amount to soap bars. 1 to 5 sticks can be assembled by using a rope and existing tying techniques known and used by local people.

Soap Shish in Korea
Soap Shish in Korea
Soap Shish in Korea
Pretotyping Soap Shish

Soap Shish was pretotyped in Doori Elementary School with 3rd grade, 10 year-old students for observing the target group’s interest in the product and possible problems during usage. 


Watch children’s response to Soap Shish with no introduction:

Why Soap Shish?
Hygiene Behaviour Change


Having observed the child behaviour, Soap Shish

expects to create hand washing as a habit in children.


Decrease in Medical Expenses and Child Deaths


Hand washing with soap reduces the transmission

of diarrhoeal disease by over 40 per cent! Soap Shish

expects to create a decrease in medical expenses

and child deaths.


Maintenance of soap in schools


Soap Shish holds the soap bars in place, preventing

them from getting lost or stolen.

Stakeholder Feedback

‘‘There is no running water and a bar of soap would go missing so we don’t provide it at present. I love that the project provides soap which cannot be stolen, that it is permanently near the toilets, but mostly that it makes it FUN to encourage kids to clean their hands.‘says Canning from Ripple Africa, an organization operating in primary schools in Malawi

INDEX: Design to Improve Life and UNICEF

Chosen among the 7 finalist from 115 projects, Soap Shish is carried to the INDEX Design Challenge Workshop and given a Jury Special Award in Copenhagen. The workshop consisted of experts and jury members from several companies including INDEX, UNICEF, Cisco, World Toilet Organization, IKEA, who helped us develop business models and find ways to execute our projects.

During the INDEX Workshop, I was happy that Eunjung Lee joined me as my team mate for Soap Shish

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