It might look fairly ordinary, apart from the colour. But the development of the Whashin desk stapler says much about shifts in expanding Far Eastern markets that are creating a demand for Western design in countries such as Korea.

The redesign of Korean company Whashin’s existing low-cost stapler by London product design group Priestman Associates was prompted by two main factors, says consultancy partner Paul Priestman. The original stapler below was similar to a Japanese design, which in turn owed much to a 1950s US model, and this might have led to copyright problems in exporting to the West. Meanwhile, Chinese manufacturers had started producing a stapler similar to Whashin’s original, but at a cheaper price.

The job, explains Priestman, involved controlling the quality of the product. But it didn’t involve too many trips to Korea. ‘We identified the need for quality control, sent off the original sketches and designs, and these turned up,’ he says of the new models.

He describes the resulting design as ‘an evo lution into today’s world market’, rather than a ‘radical leap’. The key innovation is the circular matt chrome Quick-switch, which makes it easy to switch from stapling to pinning functions and from which the new model takes its name. Otherwise, the mechanism remains as before.

The restyling combines simple shapes with the softer look of matt and semi-matt finishes and colour to give a more domestic product.

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