Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rounded-bottom Design

Much of what comes out of slanty design, and possibly the whole manner of designing architectures of control today, bugs the hell out of me. Its been bothering me since I read a spate of related articles a few months ago. I like the concept at its core. Don't prohibit by labelling, but make it impossible for users to do the wrong thing. Much of the slanted design stuff seems to split the difference, and feels user punishing still. Sloped floors leading to baggage carousels (scroll down in the first link to slanty design, or try the ACM article, if you have a membership)? Toronto for ones has snaking baggage rooms that already solve this dilemma. I am sure others have solved it in similar ways. See how the conveyor keeps going along the back wall? There's several other peninsulas like this one... Though the bags do come out one place, its inconvenient to get to, no one notices it, and there are other things to distract you around the room, like TVs. So people spread out, and no one fights for space. And, when full of people, sight lines are poor, so you just see your little lane, and don't race to the end of the room to get your luggage as soon as it comes out. I've been trying to keep track of other bits of good design that avoids problems without punishment. And then I saw the fire buckets on a UK TV show. They have round bottoms! Its Foyles War. Just into the middle of series two now. And they are still made, though this one is rather less aggressively curved. Seem to be for factories and ships, more than places like police stations these days: In case it doesn't make sense, normal folks don't have hooks all over the place. Buckets get put down on the ground in normal use. A round bottom prevents use of the bucket as a normal bucket, so they won't get messed with or stolen. Brilliant. And a machine-age solution. This one, with a wire to serve the same purpose is from the turn of the last century: Personally, I prefer the very obvious ones, as then it doesn't just not work to stand up, it so clearly doesn't work for any but the designated purpose that no one would try it.

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