How a footstool that provides the best position for going to the toilet has won a national design award

Good Design Award winners: Zhenya Gerson and Jacqueline Weiley with the PROPPR footstool that provides the best position for going to the toilet.
Good Design Award winners: Zhenya Gerson and Jacqueline Weiley with the PROPPR footstool that provides the best position for going to the toilet.

A Gerringong entrepreneur and her Cronulla business partner have won Australia's highest honour for design and innovation with a pedestal stool that helps create the best squat position for going to the toilet.

While she gets plenty of poo puns when she tells people about the product Jacqueline Weiley said it was focusing attention on the very important issue of gut health.

Healthy innovation:The environmentally friendly PROPPR footstool range that comes in three colours in acrylic and timber.

Healthy innovation:The environmentally friendly PROPPR footstool range that comes in three colours in acrylic and timber.

For years it has been known that in cultures where squatting is the norm the bowel is able to be emptied completely and the incidence of many common western bowel problems are extremely low.

But until recently no-one has designed a stool commercially that helps put the body into the squat position on western toilets.

Business owners Jacqueline Weiley, of Gerringong, and Zhenya Gerson, of Cronulla, are doing just that with the PROPPR.

In the process they have won the product category of the annual Good Design Awards with their Australian made acrylic and timber footstools.

"I'm based in Gerringong and my business partner, Zhenya Gerson, a gut health nutritionist, is located in the Sutherland Shire," Ms Weiley said.

"With the rise in gut health as a more open topic of conversation across both mainstream and social media, we believe now is the time to really turn up the news on proper bathroom visits. The use of a footstool in the bathroom can help alleviate or prevent health issues by unkinking the colon and letting gravity take over".

Ms Weiley said PROPPR came about by chance. They saw a product they thought was perfect and were able to buy a company that was about to close and evolve the footstools.

"Zhenya has a clinic in Cronulla and I was a client. In there she had some signage promoting the use of a footrest to get your knees higher than your hips. That is essentially the physical position you need to be in to un-kink your colon so things flow better..

"I knew about this and had traveled in Asia and used squat toilets before.

"An American product was pretty much the category creator about 10 years ago but their main stool is made of plastic which I didn't like. So I did some makeshift stuff here. But then when I went into Zhenya's clinic about 18 months ago she had this beautiful footrest in the bathroom and I went "WOW that is a stool I would put in my bathroom".

In a Remington moment Ms Weiley liked the product so much she decided to buy the company.

The business had been going for about four years after starting with a Crowd Funding campaign. When Ms Weiley, who previously owned Foodscape Tours, inquired about buying one of the stools it turned out the owner was looking to sell and asked her if she wanted to buy the business.

"We then found the business was going to close and thought "no". There are a number of other stools on the market but none of them are as beautiful as the PROPPR," Ms Weiley said.

After 12 weeks of negotiation with the previous owner who was about to travel overseas they bought the business and have evolved the product.

"We felt there was a gap in the market to keep the product alive, build on the foundation that was started and take it to the next level. We have worked with our manufacturer in Queensland to use all sustainable timbers. We wanted Australian timbers so we chose Tasmanian Oak, Ms Weiley said.

"The design was there. The product was there but there was pretty much no stock when we bought the business. We have what we call a re-startup business.

"There is also an acrylic range because we wanted a different price point. We can tailor colours but our core range is three timbers and three acrylics (in white-wash, matte-black and clear).

"At this stage we sell retail and also stock through a number of clinics nationally. We are also starting to look at our options for expanding overseas".

Ms Weiley said the Good Design Award recognises the elegance of the PROPPR as a functional and beautiful piece of bathroom furniture.

The name comes from the design to replicate the proper squat posture while sitting comfortably on a pedestal toilet.

The Good Design Awards jury described it as "a really neat example of good design making a difference to product.

The said it was "an honest, intuitive and no nonsense design approach has created a unique product that will enhance our health and wellbeing".

The jury was impressed with the use of certified Australian timbers such as Tasmanian Oak and toxic-free varnish.

Good Design Australia chief executive Dr Brandon Gien said it was a significant win given the high calibre of entries.

Ms Gerson said it was important the products were environmentally sustainable and looked good.

"I've been encouraging clients for years to use a footstool in the bathroom to help alleviate or prevent gut and bowel issues. However many clients complained that other stool designs were just too ugly or cumbersome".

This story Squat stool's national win first appeared on South Coast Register.