2010 AIGA CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Recognized for revolutionizing the home-care market through developing eco-friendly products as desirable for their beauty as for their effectiveness and sustainability.
A decade ago, the cleaning product category was stagnant and ugly. Product design was focused on attracting buyers at the store; once a product came home, the assumption was that it would be hidden in a cabinet far from view. And any superlatives on the packaging highlighted a product’s ability to clean—with no mention of its ecological cost, to people or to the planet. When Method arrived on shelves, that all changed.
Method got started in 2000 by Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan, childhood friends who were frustrated by the aesthetics and environmental impact of available cleaners. Their new company, they believed, would revolutionize the market. Every product would be designed thoughtfully and held to the highest standards of effectiveness, safety, sustainability, packaging and fragrance.
In 2001 Lowry and Ryan sold four cleaning sprays to a local grocery store in Burlingame, California. This small beginning was Method’s entry into a big market for green, attractive cleaners. The following year the company hired Karim Rashid to design packaging and convinced Target to test Method’s cleaning sprays and dish soaps in 90 of its stores. The products were an immediate hit, and seven months later, Target outlets across the nation were carrying the Method brand. Now that stylish, effective, eco-friendly cleaners were affordable and easily available, the notion of inclusive design reached a whole new category of buyers.
In the ten years since the company was founded, Method’s line has expanded to include home cleaners for bathrooms, kitchens and floors; hand and body care; laundry detergent; and personal-care products safe for kids and babies. Each new addition follows Method’s philosophy to make social and environmental change a key company objective.
“I was convinced that business is the most powerful agent for positive change on the planet. But it’s not business as we know it today. It is fundamentally and profoundly different. It is business redesigned,” says Lowry.
That attitude fuels every product Method launches. Whether it’s dryer sheets using a plant-based oil instead of beef fat, or the Omop, a reusable mop that uses cloths made from 100-percent biodegradable corn-based plastic, each product is designed with a “cradle to cradle” ethos and a commitment to social justice—by forging partnerships with companies that have fair labor practices, for example.
Method’s own description of itself says that “the way we achieve sustainability is by using one innovation to give us license for the next.” That process begins by luring customers with aesthetics—sleek containers, chic typefaces, cheeky copy and a sophisticated color palette—and keeping them with products that work without causing harm. “More demand equals more opportunity for change,” says the company’s manifesto. And with significant yearly growth, Method continues to clean up by using beauty to benefit the earth.