Bad Design

Paul Rand observed that everything around him has been designed to be used by people. If that is the case, why do we have so many things around us that are not useful? Like the water bottle that always spills and spoils our lunch bags or the pencil that breaks too often? It seems that sometimes we design object the right way so it is easy to use and sometime when we dont design things well, they become useless. Can we then agree that there are some designs that are good and some that are bad? Let us look at some cups again and analyze.

Can you drink from a cup like this one?

Or can you drink from a cup that looks like this?

We know just by looking at it that the cups are not useful. But there are some cups that are easy to pour, but would still land us in trouble. I always spend extra time cleaning the crooks of my cup at the bottom that are difficult to reach with my big hands and leaves stains forever in the cup.

We can test if any design is good or not, by experiencing it. Experience determines everything, everything about an object we use — a cup or a water bottle. There are many ways to experience a cup. We can try pouring something into it or pouring something out of it, by drinking from it, and by cleaning it and keeping it back in the shelf.

Experience is how we feel when we use a product.

Some designs are meant for specific experiences only. A porcelain cup in the kitchen is designed for using it at the kitchen table and putting it back into the dishwasher for cleaning. A take-away cup at Starbucks is meant for sipping chocolate milk while you are walking along the road.

Charles Eames, a furniture designer said:

A design that is not necessarry or useful is not good design.

The take-away cup is useful when you are rushing to school. The porcelain cup is useful when we are at the kitchen table. Look at this cup with a handle that can be used to keep the spoon. Where do you think this design is useful and necessary?

Now grab all the cups you use and the water bottles that you drink water out and observe what aspects of the design you like and what you dont like. Pour something into it, pour something out of it, keep it in your bag and check if it spills, clean it with your hands, keep it in your shelf. Try different things and find out if your cups are designed well at all times. Then you can be proud that you own a well-designed object. Keep them with you as long as you can. If you do not like any aspect of the design, think about how you can fix it and make it better.

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