When it comes to industrial design critiques, there’s one name everyone knows. Remember that guy? He wrote that book with that strange tea pot and then another one with an alien looking juicer on the cover. He seems to know a lot about design and he has a sense of humour about it all (enough to not sue us for making him a superhero). Now you can ask him your burning questions about design - and receive the answers you didn’t want to hear.
As I lounge comfortably in my classic Eames chair, let me take a minute to explain this week’s comic about industrial design. I am not saying that the world does not need nice-looking tables and chairs, only that there are so many things worthy of design that industrial designers never touch. Instead, disproportionate effort goes into tables, chairs, and flatware that while beautiful, are hardly world-changing.
What else is there to design, you ask? Well let’s examine a few examples. One that springs to mind is new permutations of Mohammed Bah Abba’s pot-in-pot cooling system. While the original design is elegant, it has not been optimized for transport, stacking, or mass production; and it requires repeated human effort to re-wet the cooling sand.
Another entire category is medical equipment design. While tons of industrial design work has been done on portable monitoring devices, how about the basics? Like designing a hypodermic needle that can’t accidentally prick you? Or a hospital bed that can help prevent bedsores?
As designers, it is true that we can change the world — but our efforts are currently biased toward redoing mass consumer goods which have already been done quite well. It ‘makes sense’, since this is where the money is. But perhaps it is time to take a step back and shift our focus toward actual world-changing endeavors.
Kevin and I are looking to launch a new mini-project that connects non-profit/not-for-profit causes who need help with their online presences with experienced usability, visual and interaction designers (and developers!) who are willing to volunteer a couple hours of their time and expertise. We are looking for the sort of sites that could benefit from our skills, but who typically couldn’t afford a day of our time (especially at KC’s rates!). If you have ideas for organizations that could benefit or are interested in volunteering a couple hours, leave a comment or send mail to: ideas /at\ ok-cancel.com.
Yes, we know, it’s not even Thanksgiving and we’re talking about Christmas. However, given we have some ideal gifts for HCI/Usability people and their loved ones, we thought we should let you know that you need to place your order in by November 3rd (that’s in a little over a week) to make sure they get to you in time. That’s because we need to get them printed and then sent to you, wherever you are. So go check them out and spread the word!