When I was at school there was no such subject as art and design, just art and pottery. I’ve never had any experience of designing anything, but I use lots of things which are badly designed, and I wonder why and how they came to be sold to dupes like me… except I wasn’t a dupe. I did check out the items I’m thinking of, and the design flaws weren’t apparent until I actually used them
- my electric water tooth flosser: this device has a reservoir you fill with water, and it pumps it through a tiny narrow tube and squirts it into your mouth between your teeth. It works really well, and I am pleased with that aspect of it. The annoying thing is the on/off button, which is one of those soft buttons, is on the part you hold. The reservoir is at the bottom, the machinery bit is in the middle which you hold, and the tube is at the top. It’s so easy when you’re using it to accidentally change the speed of squirt (fast, pulse, slow) which is mildly irritating, and so easy to turn it on when you’re trying to attach/detach the reservoir from the rest of it – if the reservoir is full water squirts everywhere, it’s empty the flosser emits an anguished squeal. If the buttons were near the top it would be far more difficult to accidentally turn it on!
- our electric kettle: it seems there are two types of kettle, the jug kettle which is filled from the top, has a handle on the side, lid on top, and a short spout. These ones are mainly electric – although a coffee pot is similar, handle on side, lid on top, spout on opposite side to handle. The other sort, described as a traditional kettle, has the lid on top and the handle is above the lid, and the spout on the side. We have a traditional shaped kettle but it is an electric one. I have no problem with the way it works, switch it on, kettle boils, pour out the water. The difficulty comes is when you want to refill the kettle straight away and you lift the lid as it’s a top filler and your delicate hand is enveloped in scalding steam. I can’t think of a design way round this – but will remember to buy a jug kettle next time!
- the car… where to begin… suicide doors – these are the back doors which open the opposite way, so as you look at the back doors, the handles are on the left, adjacent to the handles for the front doors. There are so many things wrong with this, it is difficult as you try to get out to have a good vision of the road behind, so getting out is more difficult and risky, the passengers in front and back can’t exit at the same time, there’s not as much space to get out because of the back of the front seats, they are counter intuitive, I can’t imagine how a disabled person would easily get in – my sister is disabled so I know how important it is to have plenty of space, and they are just plain annoying! Maybe it’s the particular car we have because when I looked up suicide doors s safety seems one of the key reasons for them – so maybe it’s just our car!
- the car (ii): most cars have beepers to alert the driver to such things as reversing, seat belts not being fastened, doors being open. Our car has several different beepers, but the one which operates when the vehicle is in reverse is deafeningly loud. It is positioned by the back seats so the poor passengers have their ears assailed every time the car reverses. I am not kidding, it’s painfully loud – well, it was, until my husband came up with a cunning plan. He’s a drummer and used to recording, instruments, music, adjusting volume, etc. and he bought some magic material which sound proofs things. He put squares over the beepers, and even though the material was quality, the beeping is still safely audible, and now is useful to the driver, and doesn’t damage the ears of the passengers.
- the car (iii): charging the phone: the little input thing where you insert the cable from your phone charger, headphones, other devices is almost inaccessible. There is a compartment between the front seats which is like a drawer with a sliding top (the handbrake is a button on the dash) The drawer in our car was missing when we bought it, but unfortunately we didn’t realise for some time – but that’s nothing to do with the design of the car. The input thing is inside the space for the drawer, but you have to lean down to fit your cable in – it’s not visible with the naked eye so you have to light your phone, and it’s vertical instead of horizontal. Ours doesn’t work anyway but even if it did it would be a real pain to use – very awkward.
- the car (iv): this isn’t a very important thing, but it’s still annoying: the radio is built-in so you can’t just buy a new radio. Never mind, it will do, but it’s screen is terrible. The biggest part of the display tells you what radio station you are on, there is an icon showing it’s broadcasting, and the space for the programme information is so small there is only room for a couple of words, useless.
That’s my moan over for the day!