simplehuman Sensor Mirror

simplehuman is a California-based company that produces top-notch household products that they call “tools for efficient living.” The line is made to make your life easier and with touch-free sensor soap pumps (goodbye germs!) and trash cans with lids that open with the wave of a hand, you’ll never look back. While widely known for their stainless steel trash cans, their simple design principles have spread through the kitchen with dish drains, canisters, and paper towel holders, all the way to the bathroom with shower caddies, plungers, and hampers. For this month, we have a special bonus edition of Deconstruction, in which the simplehuman team shares with us the extensive design process behind their latest product, the Sensor Mirror.

Our initial design concepts were developed in response to an exhaustive research and discovery phase about how to improve on the existing vanity mirror experience.

After our functionality goals were fully established, the next step was to fabricate 3D mock-ups and prototypes — lots and lots of 3D prototypes.

The goal was to simulate natural sunlight — with a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) that contains the full color spectrum. We used special equipment to test and find LEDs that would give us the best color-correct light and brightness.

We borrowed from a technology used in high-end flat screen TVs to create an intricate pattern of micro-reflectors around the ring. The pattern is loosest close to the light source and denser (reflecting more light) farther away.

That way we maintain even lighting all the way around — no light loss or hot spots.

The mirror’s curvature is very precise for a distortion-free, 5x magnification. That level of magnification is ideal for providing exceptional detail while still allowing you to see your entire face at once.

Quality testing is an important part of the development story. Mirrors are pulled apart and quality tested for reflectivity and consistent curvature of the mirror.

Light rings are quality tested with a light meter to measure color temperature. We have very tight tolerances.

The result is our unique sensor mirror with a proprietary tru-lux light system that simulates natural sunlight and contains the full color spectrum to show every detail — so looking good in this light means you will look flawless in any setting.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.