- Credit Line:
Given by Simon Berry and Jane Berry
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On display in Values of Design, Design Society, Shekou, China
Cola Life is a series of three packaging designs for an anti-diarrhoea kit called Kit Yamoyo (meaning ‘Kit of Life’ in Nyanja and other local languages spoken in Zambia). This is an example of an Aid Pod, the first iteration of the kit, it consists of oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc supplements, packaged in a container which can fit inside the empty spaces of a fully-loaded Cola-Cola crate (the spaces not occupied by the bottles themselves).
Simon Berry is the founder of Cola Life and initially had the idea for these packaging designs whilst working on the British Aid programme in 1988. The premise was that a bottle of Coca-Cola can be bought virtually anywhere in developing countries yet in these same places, one in nine children die before their fifth birthday from preventable and often neglected causes like dehydration from diarrhoea. Berry observed that these communities did not have the same kind of access to medicine as they do to other goods such as soft drinks. The Cola Life idea was to piggy-back on pre-existing distribution networks such as Coca-Cola, in order to adequately deliver affordable anti-diarrhoea kits to remote villages. As compelling as this was, Berry’s proposal gained no real traction until he posted the idea on Facebook, twenty years later, in 2008.
Although the innovation produced great publicity for the project, Berry discovered that the subsidised price was still considered expensive for around 40% of those surveyed in the Zambian communities where it was deployed and surprisingly that only 8% of retailers had even put the kits in a Coca-Cola crate to transport them. These revelations led to a cheaper and simpler screw-top cylinder package design which also acts as a measuring jar (CD.155-2016). Finally, a sachet ‘Flexi-pack’ (CD.156-2016) was conceived, originally as a refill for the screw-top pack.
Cola Life is a good example of how design thinking can be applied as a tool for problem solving to address fundamental questions of human well-being, in particular problems of poverty, health and education in developing countries.
This Kit Yamoyo was acquired as part of the Shekou Project, an international partnership between the V&A and China Merchant Shekou Holdings (CMSK) to open a new cultural platform called Design Society in Shekou. The Kit Yamoyo was included in the inaugural exhibition, ‘Values of Design’, in the V&A Gallery at Design Society in a section exploring design for cost and distribution.
A transparent plastic container with a flat top and tapered bottom. There are sachets of medicine and instructions inside the pod.
Length: 13.5 cm, Width: 6.5 cm, Height: 8.5 cm
Object history note
This Cola Life kit was included in ‘Values of Design’ at the V&A Gallery, Design Society in Shenzhen, China in 2017.
'Kit Yamayo' (Kit of Life) AidPod anti- diarrhoea kit. 4g/200ml sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), Zinc, Soap and an instruction leaflet.
Labels and date
Packaging Designs for Kit Yamoyo
While Coca-Cola is available anywhere in the world, many places still lack access to basic medical supplies. ColaLife proposesto use the distribution network of the soft drink to deliver medicine. Its packaging is designed to fit in the niches of Coca-Cola crates and travel alongside the beverage to remote villages in Africa. 
Interiors; Household objects; Shekou; Values of Design; Design Society
Design, Architecture and Digital Department