A long wait at an airport can be a drag, with temporary reprieves from interminable boredom offered by tacky stores and overpriced fast food. For parents with young kids in tow, the experience is even more taxing. With few amenities of home, they must keep their patience intact and their little ones entertained. To do so, most parents reject the restrictive seating in favor of the floor, where babies and toddlers can crawl around and play. The problem is that airport carpeting is neither sanitary nor comfortable. The dead-simple yet ingenious solution: The Whaletale mat, a detachable luggage accessory that folds out to create a hygienic space where a parent and two kids can lounge.
The concept is the brainchild of Daye Kim, a student at California College of Arts, who developed the project in response to an assignment on "transformation and transition." That brought her to SFO airport, to interview travelers about how they cope with being in a state of physical transition. "Though many of them gave me great insights, none of the struggles could beat the powerful stories of family travelers and what they have to go through in order to get to their destination," she tells the jury of the Core77 Design Awards, which recently gave her the student prize in its soft-goods category.
If that weren’t enough, there’s also a mobile app, to build a community of family travelers who can inform one another on the best locations to set up camp and, no doubt, share their airport frustrations, which even the Whaletale can’t allay.