Itso for Target

A storage system inspired by how people live and work

Target was in the unique position to compete with furniture and organization retailers by creating a cross-category storage system that bridged the brand’s many offerings, from birdseed to clothing to tools and hardware. Such a design would also reflect the varied storage applications in people’s homes and workspaces. Partnering with IDEO to design the system, Target’s retail environments provided a rich research context for IDEO’s team of industrial designers, social scientists, and engineers.

To better understand the Target guest’s shopping experience and general storage needs, IDEO began with fieldwork in Target stores, speaking with guests and observing their decision-making processes. The team also conducted at-home observations and interviews with stakeholders ranging from families, to pack rats, to collectors, to people with space constraints. Various contexts of storage were studied, from temporary storage, in which users often improvise with less than ideal set-ups, to worktop paper piles, to transitional items, such as seasonal clothing.

IDEO found that most people lack a clear mental model of how to organize their belongings, resulting in diminished access to frequently used goods, and trouble knowing what they have or where to find it. IDEO also discovered that people’s life states effect their storage needs: As people decrease or increase their belongings, move to a new space, cohabitate, and so on, they are less willing to commit to any one organization system, as most are unable to be changed or customized. From these insights, IDEO developed a framework for articulating storage and organization for real life, including a series of design principles: TAILOR, INSPIRE, FLOW, and EVOLVE. Together, these principles consider the constant movement of “stuff” between storage and use and emphasize both states equally.

The result is Itso, a system comprising modular bins, interconnecting shells, interchangeable drawers and doors, and accessories. As a changeable system requiring no tools for assembly, Itso can be easily shaped as needed, again and again.

Project date: 2008