A couple of weeks back I went on holiday to Miami. It was my first time in the US of A and despite taking a few days to adjust to the extreme heat and politeness I’d recommend it. Being a cynical designer I couldn’t help but notice certain aspects of the holiday that could be improved by better design. In fact rarely a day goes by when one of us in the studio doesn’t notice something that could be made better by design. I guess that’s why things change and evolve.
Here are a few observations that got on my wick. With some of them you might think, “Get over it! You’re in Miami, go and sun that puny white body and maybe even treat yourself to a camp cocktail’? Perfectly valid points but ‘A’ I spray tanned before I went and ‘B’ the cocktails were about $40 each and I’m a tight northerner!
Sliding toilet door handle in Hotel room
I can understand why sliding doors are useful in the limited space of a hotel room but why screw on the world’s most useless handle!?
The cavity in the pressed steel bracket was too shallow to get my big peg fingers into. Even the boniest witch fingers would struggle to ‘get purchase’ on this! In this picture you can see the small disc to lock the door is smaller than a 1p coin (the approximate worth of this entire mechanism).
When the sliding door was fully opened it fell back flush with the wall. This meant you had to stick your finger tips into the small gaps either side and pull it out requiring the strength of a scorpion claw – a power not many people possess.
Alternatively you could reach up to the top of the door and pull it out with a cheeky digit – ridiculous and difficult to do especially for the younger and older generations.
Shoddy library in hotel lobby
Initially I thought ‘quite quirky to have a ten foot high book case in the hotel lobby with pretend books all the same colour’. Then I thought no, it might look good but why not make it a space guests can interact with i.e. fill the damn thing with real books! People could sit, read and engage with something on those expensive looking sofas. Personally I would add one of those sliding ladders and push myself from one side to the other pretending to search for a book.
Over engineered beer bottle
Come on Mr ‘Miller Lite’ the beer maker! Since when do you need to screw the top back on a beer bottle? Picture the scene. You go to the bar on a hot summers day and order a beer. Having taken a couple of sips you think ‘mmm I think I’ll screw this top back on and finish this later once its become warm and a little less fizzy’? Or better still I’ll reuse this very robust Aluminium bottle later and fill it with orange juice with a hints of stale beer!
Compared to a normal beer-can I can’t see how it is more efficient to manufacture, distribute, serve and use? It could be argued it’s classier than a can and forms part of wider branding campaign but drinking out of a metal bottle feels weird and in the context of user experience I think it spoils the ceremony of enjoying an alcoholic beverage.
Draconian TV system on plane
Despite having to punch the screen Bruce Lee style with a “HIYAA!” sound effect from 3cm away to move through each step of the onboard TV system, it isn’t the TV itself I want to discuss, it’s the casing of the screen that was awful to use.
When the fatty in front of me decided he needed to recline his seat it meant the TV was at the wrong angle to view. Fortunately the designers of the TV housing thought to integrate a tilting mechanism. Unfortunately it didn’t tilt without administering more Kung Fu jabs much to the pleasure of Jabba the Hutt in front of me.
I’d love to see Apple design TV systems for planes. In fact all you need to do is mount an iPad into the headrest – done!
Sachets from hell
Before you ask, no I don’t cross dress (although some say I am curious), it’s my girlfriend hand modelling in these pictures. The customary on board cuisine was best avoided despite nearly chewing my own fingers off. I tentatively had a prod and found these sachets really annoying to use. Despite having a small slit to help you on your way it just wouldn’t open.
The same applied to the mini cheese packaging. You can see the red line where stronger material is used to cut through the softer transparent film thereby guiding the tear, but it didn’t work. The easiest cheese packaging system I’ve used is Baby Bell’s, which are encased in wax; they’re also a taste sensation! In fact thinking about it cheese packaging is always pretty terrible. It rarely reseals the food properly once open, it’s hard to open without the help of a knife or scissors and its rarely recyclable.
You might be wondering what the point of this blog is apart from some idiot moaning about things that don’t really matter. The point is I think we all need to question the products/services we interact with. It’s a behavioural thing, so we can do something about it. Pick up a pencil and sketch out an idea. Who knows where it might lead. Probably the bin but maybe one little golden nugget will change the way some people live in its own little way.
Feel free to write in with any of your holiday gripes Mellor
& Scott fans but please keep it design related!
Have a nice day yawl.