We’re all familiar with the spring-loaded paper napkin dispenser to the right. Every low-priced restaurant and diner has these; you’d think it has hit a sweet spot of stable cost and performance. After all, it works, doesn’t it?
And yet, recently I’ve run into a major improvement on the theme: a competing design that has a better user experience by far.
Here it is:
The main change is that the older design dispenses paper napkins at two opposite ends, and this one issues them at the top. Why is this important? Because in the more common design you need two hands to pull a napkin, holding the dispenser with your left and pulling at the paper with your right. In the top-loader you pull the napkin up and gravity (and a heavy bottom plate) holds the dispenser down. This not only allows one handed operation, but also makes the dispensing action far more repeatable, so you’re less likely to end up holding a large bunch of multiple napkins.
Sure, there are more important design challenges out there… but in a world full of sloppily made products, no clever design should go unpraised!