Good design can be found in all areas of our lives, as can design that doesn’t live up to it’s promise. Shaving is one area where the results of design can be a bloody mess. I have always been intrigued by razors and the quest for a smooth and blood-free shave. From watching my dad shave 30 years ago to experimenting with different razors over the years the search for smoothness has been surprisingly difficult.
So when gillette introduced the Mach3 in 1998 I was interested. Here was a razor which held the blade in a totally different way. Instead of the user pushing the blade against the skin and then dragging, this design enabled you to simply pull the razor in the direction you wanted to shave. It turned out not to be just a gimmick, and I was pleasantly surprised by it’s effectiveness. My skin was smooth, and the results were much less likely to involve blood. Gillette had managed to look at how people shaved, and as a result, totally rethink standard design practice of the razor.
I am always open to new ideas - so when I saw recently that King of Shaves had devised a variant on the Gillette model I took notice. This sleek new "Azor" razor, with a black plastic yoke holding the blade seemed to promise an even better result. King of Shaves have become a trusted purveyor of shaving potions, and have a cooler, underdog image - even seeking to reach their audience with a facebook group.
Alas the promise has lead to dissapointment. As I write this post I can feel the 2cm slash that starts below my nose. And this was not a solitary user error - there are a couple of nicks on my neck and chin too. This was my third shave with the Azor and in every use I have tried to learn the unique ways of this tool. Adjusting my hand pressure to try and get the best blade angle and workng with the way it bends below the blade on a rubber hinge. As much is I’ve tried, my experience leads me to think KoS has left more than the “r” off of this razor.
Gillette have managed to win this razor design dust-off, and are still ranked highly in my opinion for their game changing design. It seems computers and things electronic is not the only area where a company can come along and rethink a long held product design paradigm.