FORMcard is a reusable, pocket-sized sheet of meltable bio-plastic that can be moulded to make new tools and repair broken objects. The starch-based material becomes mouldable when dropped into a cup of hot water and sets solid when it cools. Following several years of working with thermoplastics, London-based Marigold created FORMcard as a means to challenge the preconception of plastic as a short-lived material, “associated with a cheap disposable world in which things break easily and end up in the bin,” says Marigold in his crowdfunding video on Kickstarter.
Marigold launched the product on Kickstarter as a means to gauge the public’s reaction to FORMcard and therefore its potential commercial success. “The way that Kickstarter works means that there is not really a risk,” says Marigold. “It is about gauging if something is going to be interesting enough to be funded. If a project is a Kickstarter flop, then that’s actually a good thing for a designer because they haven’t wasted their time developing something that would have been a commercial disaster.”
Every Kickstarter campaign requires a video that introduces the product and which usually serves as the predominant selling point of the campaign. For Marigold the video was key. “I spent a lot of time writing the script to cover a few things that I thought were really important,” he says. “I have been working with the thermoplastics for a very long time now and I envisaged that there could have been a backlash from people saying that the product already exists.” As a result, Marigold's Kickstarter video contains imagery of him working with thermoplastics over a period of several years. “I wanted to say: ‘I know these exist, here are the improvements and this is why they are going to be important,’" he says. "I hardly got any backlash, so that was a really considered move.”
Marigold offered backers more than 30 different rewards, dependant on the sum pledged. The rewards ranged from limited edition versions of the product, to shop stock and studio presentations. “I followed the normal Kickstarter thing and offered crazy workshops and t-shirts and things like that,” says Marigold. “The interesting thing was that people were not interested in that, they actually just wanted the product."
Marigold’s Kickstarter goal of £3,500, relatively modest by the standards of the platform, was calculated based on the funds required to cover the initial costs of manufacturing FORMcard. Having far surpassed the campaign’s original goal, Marigold will use the additional funds raised to create long-term foundations for FORMcard, employing a workforce dedicated to the development of the product.
FORMcard's success inevitably draws comparison with Sugru, a mouldable glue that cures into a flexible yet strong rubber. Sugru launched in 2009 and was developed by a team of product designers and material scientists based in London, who marketed it as a means to make new objects and fix broken ones.
Sugru and FORMcard are similar, but provide different solutions. Whilst Sugru forms into a rubbery, flexible material that cures after 24 hours, FORMcard is reusable. It is mouldable when heated and sets as a rigid and solid material when it cools. Nevertheless, it is intriguing that both products have emerged out of the east London creative community, and that both have begun as energetic start-ups rather than investment-heavy enterprises. The relative success of both products points to a burgeoning culture of self-fixing; a growing interest in increasing the lifespans of everyday objects.