The story of the AQ Postcard Kit

Occasionally, when a few people share a complete understanding and passion for an idea, a flash of inspiration transforms quickly and naturally into a project. Here’s the story of one such lucky project.

“We love postcards, and made this kit so that you can easily send one from any corner of the world you happen to be standing on. Enjoy!”

It began with a tiny workshop over our lunch hour one day. Workshop report: Trying the d.School 90 min Crash Course on Design Thinking (in Japanese, but enjoy the photos!)

The mission of the workshop was for each of us to “redesign the experience of gift-giving” via prototyping.

We grabbed things that were lying around the office and taped them together - light bulbs, cardboard, dead batteries, and more. To our great amusement, our prototypes ended up looking like they came out of the trash. However, we discovered that building a physical representation of an idea that people could hold in their hand was an effective way to communicate intent, identify potential and plot a course forward for the idea. Also, it was just great fun.

Tomomi’s prototype of the Stamp Set

Tomomi: During the workshop, my partner lamented about giving a friend an unsatisfactory souvenir. While the friend seemed happy enough, she thought she could have spent more time or effort somehow, to find something better. In her determination to find something just right, I sensed an underlying need to casually touch base with someone she didn’t see on a regular basis. Aren’t postcards the simplest and yet the most personal souveneir to send and receive? I considered how we might make the sending of postcards a little easier while traveling. The Traveling Stamp Set was born.

Selecting a postcard to send is fun and easy. Looking up addresses and a place to buy stamps, not so much. The Traveling Stamp Set was a portable tool that helped you along from the moment you buy a postcard until it’s in the mailbox. Addresses of friends and family would be stored in ink-fed thin plastic stamps that you could slide onto the stem for use.

Ideas that just make sense tend to linger in your mind, and this one lingered, despite this prototype’s homely looks. A few weeks after the workshop, we decided to make a couple dozen kits because we wanted them for ourselves.

We refined the product for portability, cost, and ease of production. Along the way, the fussy stamp ended up on the chopping block. Even though the form factor went through a complete transformation, the essence of the idea never changed - a testament to the shared understanding achieved by going through the prototyping process together.

The second prototype

Every time a friend left on a trip, we gave them a prototype. Our good-natured guinea pigs dutifully reported back how the kit felt in their hands, how it fit in their bags, how many times they used it, etc.

Eventually, all of the details settled into a satisfying state, and our good friend Hitomi worked her magic on the sewing machine, producing this first edition of The Postcard Kit.

The Postcard Kit is a light, sturdy case of felt. Slip some stamps in the pocket, write down the addresses of friends and family, and hit the road. The scenes that you encounter and the thoughts that pass in the moment can take on a new life, scribbled in a few sentences and send to a good friend.

Fellow travelers of the world, we made these for you. Buy your Postcard Kit now from Spoon & Tamago .

September 30, 2014