Good Design in Everyday Life

We’re already covering the bad here , let’s talk about the GOOD design that we find in everyday life.

One recent trend I have noticed is T-shirts and other undergarments that are tagless…the info usually printed on the tag is instead screenprinted onto the inside of the shirt…genius I say!

Since I drive old clunker cars (hate to have car payments) I don’t keep up on new car designs so maybe I’m behind the times on this one: My sister just bought a 2007 Honda Civic that has an interesting dashboard design…the speedometer is at eye level so you don’t have to glance down periodically to make sure you are toeing the line (the gas gauge is also up there). The other, lesser used gauges are in the usual place. And I’ve always been a fan of the radio/CD player controls on the steering wheel in newer cars.

What else?

I see there was already a reference to “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman in the other thread. I’d like to second the recommendation. It’s a great book that really opened my eyes to how poorly designed many things are, and to take joy when I find something that truely works well.

I found the brilliantly designed Hercules guitar stand at half retail price at a pawn shop. Sit the headstock into the hanger, and the clasps automatically snap up and support the guitar. As you let go, the back of the body falls onto another support. Most stands fall over or collapse if not used with the utmost care, which pretty much defeats the purpose.

I forgot to mention the digital speedometer in the Honda S2000. I’ve no idea why cars don’t have a heads-up display all in digital. The odometer is digital now, why not everything else? Every gas gauge I’ve had is mostly unreliable - the indicator goes past the Full and Empty marks when the tank is actually full or empty.

My family had a Ford Aerostar that had a full digital display. This was all well and good until the computer running the thing took a crap and suddenly all the gauges in the van were printed in alien characters. My guess is that analog meters are more reliable in general. With this setup, one failure in the display and no meters were readable, rather than just losing one meter out of many.

Yeah, I should have mentioned that my sister’s 2007 Honda has all digital displays–the gas gauge, speedometer, radio stations, temp controls, etc. The only thing that is not digital is the tachometer, which kinda makes sense. I would think digital displays are no more problem prone than dial/analog displays.

My DIL has an older Honda where sometimes the speedometer works, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes the needle goes all haywire! Something tells me it’s just as much a pain to repair as the digital displays…

Yes, a wonderful, wonderful thing. However, some manufacturers have moved the tag to the seam along the side, usually right at the waist. Just as annoying. Proof that clothing execs NEVER wear their own clothes.

I propose creating a tag-suit, much like a hair shirt, to be worn by penitent designers.

Although I am by no means a Mac person, Steven Jobs does have a knack for design and almost all of the Apple products are beautifully designed.

Most Italian cars would certainly fit in the “great design” category. Germany does a nice job designing cars as well. And yes, throw in the classic Ford Mustang and early Corvettes as well.

Sweden wins hands down with great design for furniture and household appliances. Even their cheap IKEA crap is better designed than most.
And Bang and Olufsen electronics are always a piece of art.

I think Motorola’s razor cell phones are a classic that will remain in style for a long time. It is the first cell phone I have owned that I am in no hurry to replace.

The Coke bottle - is there a better design than that? Even the new plastic version - it just fits the hand so well.

And Levi’s Jeans…well, they still beloved the world over and my guess is that they will continue to sell for generations to come.

OTOH, I have never in my life had a problem with a tag on a piece of clothing. I cannot understand what the heck people are complaining about. Ido understand lots of people seem to hate tags, but I’ll be damned if I see any real reason except it’s just something they decided to whip themselves into a frenzy for.

Now what I hate is the inability to buy clothes that don’t have branding on them. I will NOT wear your advertising unless you pay me. Try buying a sweatsuit or running shorts without a logo on it.

I don’t know if this counts, but thank god printer/copier/fax machine manufacturers have finally figured out that it’s handy to have that little icon next to the paper slot that shows you whether to insert paper face up or face down. I’d say it’s genius, but why did it take so long???

That bread knife. It looks crazy, but it works so well! For some reason, I never end up squashing or tearing bread when I slice it up with that knife, and it is just a lot more comfortable on the wrist.

A design that I’m always glad about, every single time I use it.

It’s a T intersection in Racine, WI. The ‘top’ part of the T is a major road, the bottom part is a semi main road. What they’ve done is set it so that if your are going straight, along the top of the T, no matter what part of the cycle the lights are at, you don’t have to stop. In fact, that part doesn’t even have light, you just cruise right through. I wish they they would do that at other similar intersections.

A lot of condiment bottles have improved a lot recently.

Like the membrane device on the nozzle of French’s mustard.

And the upside-down bottles of ketchup & mayo.

(Although I’m not sure the switch from glass to plastic has been an environmental improvement)

Some tags bother me, and some don’t. I think it’s related to the material that the tag is made out of. Stiff tags generally bother me. Just about every tag on my panties has irritated me, and I’m glad to find undergarments that are tagless.

WTF? That thing looks like some kinda Klingon weapon. How do you even hold it without spraining your wrist?

My wireless mouse is symmetric, so that if you use it with your left hand, the shape isn’t awkward like some other mouses are.

Like a saw.
I gather the idea is that you can cut back and forth all the way to the table without busting your knuckles or trying to rip the bread at the end.

My VCR remote control has a nice feature: if the VCR is recording, all the buttons except “STOP” are disabled. You cannot make it go into play mode or FF or REW without stoppng the recording first. This has saved me from screwing up things I was taping on many occasions.

The Paperclip.

One of the best designs evah.

The “ziploc” bag is a very awesome invention, as is “gladware”-type containers.

Not sure why it took about 35 years for in-store delis and pre-packaged sliced meat companies to put their wares in these sorts of containers.

But now that they’ve done it, I am pleased.