I wanted to keep you updated on what our team has been working on these last couple of weeks.
We all know that there is an urgent need right now for PPE — including N95 and medical-grade masks — for our healthcare professionals and other frontline workers.
Like many of our fellow designers, our studio is utilizing our resources to produce face masks to donate to our city’s hospitals and essential workplaces that are in need. Of course, I wish that we were able to help produce medical grade masks. However, the materials for such level of masks is not something that we can get our hands on. What we do have though is an incredibly talented and compassionate production team in Guangzhou who are fully equipped with the skills to make re-usable cotton masks. We decided that this would be the next best course of action for us.
(Fun fact: that is my Dad modeling the first prototype! He gave it a thumbs up. Hi Dad!)
I looked towards my family and friends in Hong Kong for advice. There’s been a shortage of surgical masks in Hong Kong. So my family and friends have had experience with wearing alternatives since the outbreak of COVID-19. They told me about HK MASK — a social project brought about to tackle Hong Kong’s shortage of surgical masks.
We based our design on this pattern provided by HK MASK. This pattern features a filter slot, where you can place a filter or simply a tissue paper or paper towel to increase the level of filtration.
Our team has just finished the first batch of these re-usable masks for donation. We don’t want to stop there though. We are already developing the next batch with lots of improvements in mind. We want to work on the fit, functionality, lifespan, texture, and comfort because we know those who need these will be wearing them daily and for prolonged periods of time. We want to ace this mask for those who are sacrificing so much for the health and well-being of our wider community.
This week our first shipment will be routing to hospitals and organizations in New York including:
- NYU Winthrop Hospital in Long Island
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan
- Vassar Brothers Medical Center
- Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan
- NYP/Columbia University Medical Center
- Children's Hospital Los Angeles
- Parish Social Ministry Outreach Programs
- United States Postal Service (Knickerbocker - East Broadway location)
I look forward to updating you with our progress with both the design and donations over the coming weeks.
For now we’re going to share some useful and fun resources on making your own mask at home via the HK MASK project that inspired our own masks.
I do recommend trying to make your own mask at home if you’re able to in order to save PPE for our frontline workers. It’s a good safety precaution. So give this HK Mask pattern a try! :)
- Download the pattern here.
- Watch the video tutorial here.
What are re-usable cotton masks?
Public health officials have stressed the need to preserve N95 and medical-grade masks for frontline doctors and nurses, who need the protection. Re-usable cotton masks are non-clinical. They are not intended to be used in high-risk environments but they are still an added precaution, a barrier that can help limit the spread of respiratory droplets and slow the transmission of COVID-19.
If we have more of them going around to people who aren’t directly caring for COVID-19 patients, then we can save the N95 masks for those who truly need it.
While they can’t be used solely as the only protective layer for nurses and doctors, we have heard, from some healthcare workers that we reached out to, that homemade donations of DIY cotton masks have been used on top of surgical or N95 masks to prolong the lifespan of their medical-grade PPE.
They can also be used in lower-risk environments — such as in grocery stores, post offices, delivery routes, nursing homes and more — so that frontline workers can keep themselves and those around them protected.