This eco-friendly, personalized water filter knows where you live

Do you know what’s in your water? The answer can vary greatly depending on where you live. Unfortunately, water quality is a growing problem across America, and contaminants in the local supply can make a huge, immediate difference to public health. Water supplies across the country contain a wide variety of inappropriate contaminants, including lead, uranium, mercury, chlorine byproducts and more.

Many Americans are aware of this and rely on water filtration systems like Brita to provide them with clean drinking water. However, the one-size-fits-all approach inherent in many popular filtration systems can ignore significant contaminants. Most commercial water filters also rely heavily on plastic, which ends up not only in landfills but also bodies of water, making the original problem worse.

SVA Products of Design MFA students Anne Keating, Margarita Zulueta and Zekun Yang hoped that smart design could solve a handful of these problems. In a group project, they collaborated to create VODA, a sustainable, personalized filter system that is compostable and fits into any pitcher. They wanted to take the guesswork out of what to do with local drinking water by sending consumers special filters designed to remove the contaminants specific to their immediate environment. For example, someone in La Jolla, California, would receive filters designed to remove lead and chromium 6 from their faucet because those contaminants were present on inspections of their local water.

Above all, the students wanted to emphasize the importance of “using what you have”, from raising awareness of local water issues to stopping unnecessary consumption. The VODA team labeled the product “pitcher-agnostic” because its versatile design fits into all kinds of containers, such as glass jars or any store-bought pitcher you may already own. Although a special pitcher was designed for the product, the students wanted to reduce waste by creating a design that does not rely on unnecessary parts. The filter cartridge is also reusable, with the rest going into compost, making it instantly less wasteful than any other filter system on the market.

The students created this design by interviewing individuals about their water filtration habits, taking apart a commercial water filter, and coming up with new approaches to common systems. After trying different designs, they were able to create a hygienic, food-safe container that is easy to fill and can stand in different containers without tipping over. They envision a subscription system for the product and would promote it primarily on Instagram to an environmentally conscious audience between the ages of 25 and 35.

The students behind VODA clearly understand the growing importance of paying attention to local water quality and that there is no universal solution that makes the water in an area safe. This intelligent, empathetic design earned VODA the Student Runner Up title in the Consumer Technology category at the Core77 Awards. We hope their thoughtful, accessible approach inspires all designers who want to make a difference through smart engineering.

“VODA” Personal Water Filtration System is second in the Consumer Technology category of the 2022 Core77 Design Awards. You can now view all of the 2022 winners on the Core77 Design Awards website.