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Sustainability and Global Strategy to drive and reduce the usage of water in the laundry category for emerging markets. ​

What We Did

RKS was tasked by Unilever to identify opportunities to reduce the amount of water that was used for laundry in the Emerging Markets where water was scarce and utilities were virtually non-existent. This open innovation challenge led the RKS team to India and China to gain a deep understanding of the pain-points and challenges of washing clothes. The RKS team worked closely with global stakeholders at Unilever in marketing, engineering, finance, and chemistry team to innovate and create new solutions for the market. These solutions would help Unilever achieve their sustainability target for water reduction and enhance the laundry experience.


Product design is more than just winning awards; it’s about creating emotional connections between the product and the user. Our human-centered approach, Psycho-Aesthetics, helps us understand and quantify these connections. Our design firm uses it to create innovative products, technologies, services, brands, and more. We aim to create solutions that are relevant and impactful, using our approach to grow our clients’ businesses. With Psycho-Aesthetics as our foundation, we work with clients to establish a common language that can be used throughout our relationship.

Through an open innovation approach, our team delved into the heart of India and China to gain a profound understanding of the pain-points and challenges faced by communities when it comes to washing clothes. Our mission was to conduct a global ethnographic study, immersing ourselves in rural communities, to uncover insights and identify ways to reduce water usage in the laundry category. By embracing a multidisciplinary approach that welcomed diverse perspectives, including those outside the traditional design realm, we recognized the power of inclusivity and the potential for great ideas to emerge from unexpected sources.

With Unilever’s commitment to addressing the global water shortage, we explored how to transform the bucket washing practice, prevalent in many parts of the world, into a more efficient and sustainable process. By developing a custom bucket and introducing the innovative concept of a flocculation pill, we enabled users to complete their laundry using just one bucket while preserving water and enhancing soil moisture through the coagulated detergent film. This collaborative effort exemplified the strength of combining research, strategy, and sustainability to create transformative solutions that make a meaningful impact.

At RKS Design, we firmly believe that great ideas truly come from everywhere. By fostering an environment that encourages diverse perspectives and embracing the collective creativity of individuals from various backgrounds, we can unlock innovative solutions that address complex challenges.

The development of sustainable, research-driven strategies and the integration of multidisciplinary expertise were pivotal in our partnership with Unilever to drive positive change, promote water conservation, and enhance the laundry experience for communities worldwide. Together, we demonstrate the immense power of collaboration and design thinking in shaping a more sustainable and inclusive future.

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