who what why-01

I’m an Industrial Designer for Philips Design Healthcare, the work is challenging and rewarding.  Understanding who we are designing for is an important part of creating relevant solutions.  The images here are my own as part of a greater interest in people and the world.  Some of the photographs are simple observations others are questioning, but sometimes they are just photographs.  The content and opinions on Just a Photograph are my own and don’t represent those of my employer.

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Career Change…

From someones demolition list to the most desirable apartments.  Its all in the windows for me.

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Opaque dilema…

Problems can appear opaque until the correct angle is found to gain an insight.

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Behind the words…

Field research for designers is critical to understanding needs. But it’s important to look beyond the culturally and socially acceptable responses participants might offer to see beyond the words; look at the environment, actions, habits, history, objects, interactions, positioning, importance, hacks, workarounds, inconvenience, awkwardness, emotions… This richness might be the difference between a solution that sticks and one that misses.

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Redundancy does not mean inferior…

The primary interaction might be designed to be automated with readouts on large screens and reduced physical effort, but redundancy on critical equipment is not a secondary concern.  When the redundancy is called upon it has to deliver the same performance in the same environment. It has to overcome the same challenges for the operators, it is not optional.  With design moving into the increasingly digital realm its important for lessons learned designing physical interactions not to be lost or ignored. It might just save a life. DSCF1065

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Unconfirmed Diagnosis…

The Quantified Self; Data lacks meaning without sufficient fidelity, context, interpretation, and ultimately action.  Meaningful feedback is the next frontier for wearables in 2016.  Although current solutions can provide a nudge or an overview, the falling sales in this sector highlight the struggle to align the data with expectations. Graphs alone don’t inform you how to make a change or the root cause of problems or change.

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At the Sharp End…

Not a view of a product you really want to see.  The functional needs and the patient experience is a constant tension in healthcare design. Sometimes (rightly so) there is no compromise.

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Sun Blind…

Semantic saturation is a danger in the corporate environment, acronyms and terminology designed to inspire can easily become jaded and loose their meaning for those exposed to them constantly.  Its important not to loose sight of why this language exists, to sell ideas and create a verbal asset for others to gather around and support the core idea.  Perhaps we just need to make the acronyms less abstract to begin with to avoid distrust?

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Alone, together…

The latest literature, a range of topics, one big table, and nice lighting for reading. Sometimes its just about being with other people, not with other people…

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Push

Design cues can be subtle, sometimes too subtle. Finding a balance between functional needs and visual preferences can be hard. This push sign on a door with identical handles on both sides is one example. If judged purely on a spec sheet it might seem sub-optimal. Size, font weight are both much less than you might typically expect.  Yet the great contrast and positioning mean that as you approach the door it is clearly visible and not one person got it wrong. Its execution is sensitive to the quiet and refined space it was positioned in and felt considered – you might not consciously notice it, which in my mind means it fulfills its cue role perfectly.

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Flash in the pan…

Failing publicly is an occupational hazard in creative industry.  Dealing with the results can be a defining moment, offering a great opportunity to learn and come back with a more focused proposition.  The design process by its nature is a structured way of failing to succeed; Weeding out weak ideas fast and early. Being comfortable with being wrong regularly is key to ultimately being right. Asking the questions which you know might be the end of a direction.  This applies to form giving and features, but the communication and strategy of the delivery can be pivotal to engaging people and can shape the more ‘public’ aspects of your success and failure. Understand who you are speaking to and what they want to talk to you about. When and where do they want to hold the conversation, and how long their attention span is. What tone of voice is appropriate, what trigger words are there, and how to make them want to talk to you again.

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Street Food…

A photographic rule of thumb is never to photograph people eating. An additional conflicting thought with this image is photographing a personal moment between two people.  That said, this image is part of the fabric of a street in a particular moment. Food as well as our enjoyment of it with others is a strong part of society, and those messages are part of why I enjoy photography. Seeing people interacting with their spaces and each other as well as recording a moment in time.

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Standing out to fit in…

These cabins in France present an interesting face and make a striking statement.  They manage to nestled into their surroundings but without being overly apologetic or trying to camouflage themselves.  The contrast to their surroundings helps them feel like they belong by accepting that difference. They present their ‘natural’ credentials through smart material choice and minimal footprint and allowing the nature to enter and reflect on the large single window.

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Centraal…

Great to see striking modern station design that will hopefully become imbued and imprinted with positive memories like the Art Deco stations before them. As we struggle to move populations to and from work daily and overcome the complications that poses, its a great opportunity for many design professions to make a statement and the Central Station is Rotterdam is a great example.

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Dogs Outside shops…

This is slightly different to my normal post, I have been photographing dogs outside shops for a little while. These moments are small emotionally charged roller coasters for the dogs, and the world continues to happen around them, which is why I find them compelling subjects.  With my tongue firmly in my cheek, this is as close as I will ever get to the amount of emotion conveyed in a Steve McCurrey style street portrait.

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Shift of Hue…

There is a growing understanding of light on our circadian rhythms.  The very blue light of staring into our screens when working late, or checking e-mails on your phone just before drifting off could be affecting sleep patterns.  An immersive example of the power of light is during a dramatic change, especially in a city. Sunsets, or bright to dull days change behaviors.   There are lots of great design opportunities to make the most of the effects of light. Calming patients during medical procedures, or subtly altering the light quality within the home to fit with the time of year, day, and even the weather.  Man made illumination is often overlooked as simply a tool for visibility, but like any tool, choosing the right one for the job is important. A good question for designers incorporating light into their projects is to consider what behaviors and outcomes the light is supporting and adjust the quality accordingly.

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Context aware…

Understanding context, especially cultural and situational context is one of the biggest challenges for design. Sweeping statement perhaps? But consider ‘shoe tossing’ as an example; A celebration to some, school prank to others. Perhaps it’s the border of gang territory, perhaps it means you can purchase drugs nearby? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_tossing)  This variation in interpretation is not simply country specific, they can be different between city’s and neighborhoods, or even profession specific. With a global audience easier to reach, design assumptions based on personal context are the easiest to overlook and can compromise the project success. Understanding the different interpretations of design cues, be it interface symbols, color choice or form are critical to success and acceptance by the intended audience. When designing outside your comfort zone there are no quick fixes; designers getting out of the office, experiencing context first hand, asking questions, having an open mind and becoming immersed are great places to start.

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Waiting for the drop…

Perfect place to perch.  It probably wasn’t in the design spec that that this restriction post should be used as a seat. Although the proportions and height are rather suggestive of it being an ideal place to sit.  Even the other context sensitive features such as the traffic light are directed away from any weary/screen absorbed pedestrian approaching from the wrong side.  Any shaping introduced to the top of the post to prevent it being used as a seat compromise one of its primary, although occasional, uses as a small piece of road.  This small scale example (probably over-analysed) highlights the choices surrounding risk, cost & complexity that are often at the heart of design decisions.

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Status…

21st century posture.

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Thinking beyond your service…

Supermarkets in the Netherlands offer their patrons free coffee. There is usually a machine in the store from which you can acquire a caffeine boost, a nice lift in an otherwise soulless experience.  But as you exit the supermarket, this is where the service ends; There are no bins to receive empty cups directly outside the supermarket.  This has lead to customers finding novel places to put the cups.  On the surface this could be looked at as simple littering. But the fact that the customers are looking for deliberate places to put the cups, other than on the ground, suggests that given an alternative way to dispose of them they would use it.  In fact this ritual has almost taken on the status of a game, attempting to fill whole railings with empty cups.  It also creates some interesting questions for creating a collection method that engages people beyond simply throwing their cups away? Its a good lesson as design moves into services to consider the downstream consequence of setting up a new behaviour, and if it creates an opportunity for further engagement.

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Wating…

An essentially deserted waiting room in Nuweiba port, Egypt. No creature comforts, no technology, no information.  Waiting, especially for travel, is generally an experience to get through rather than enjoy.  We are so accustomed to checking departure boards, checking phones. Its actually refreshing to just have to…wait! Designers tend to focus on the activity. Modern waiting spaces are charged with technology. Knowing to the minute how long you have left could arguably make the wait longer? yet after an initial adjustment, the wait in this space felt surprisingly quick. There is a trend to make technology more integrated and subtle, perhaps we will be able to enjoy waiting more in the future as we create technology that shapes around us, giving us back time to enjoy travel?

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Public response…

The Golden hour (link) is often referred too by emergency services, also the time between ringing for help and it arriving can seem interminably long.  This is the first time I’ve seen a system where a member of the public can gain access to an Automated External Defibrillator by ringing the emergency services. At the moment despite the title this is only automated to a point; it still requires human input to apply the pads and activate it. designing products for high stress environments is challenging, how do you communicate the necessary steps quickly and concisely in a universal manner? Symbols? Text? Haptic communication? Semiotics? Systems like this are bound to be even more automated in the future, our devices are recording more and more about our health. They might reach the stage where they can predict or see possible problems ahead of time and direct you to help before the event, some of this doesn’t seem to far off….

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Simple added value…

Here in the UK you can usually spot a few discarded traffic cones left to fend for themselves by the side of a motorway.  The lights are usually an extra attachment that is placed on top. These seem like a much better way to make them visible at night and visually retain their cone shape even in the dark. Maintaining the strong visual cue that is associated with their use… now if only they were solar powered.

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Ceramic Texture…

These are some of the best tiles I’ve seen. Interesting and different. But I’m glad I don’t have to clean them.Milan-20120419-4

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Switched to silent…

Modern etiquette is evolving to work with our interconnected lives. When should things [electronics] be turned on or off? when can they be on, but silent etc?

Train carriages are the front line of modern etiquette warfare; for some its a place to do business and get things done,  for others it is a great excuse to be unplugged. The rules on politeness are not as defined here as in say a restaurant. For instance, if you need to take an important call during dinner, you probably don’t do it at your table annoying those around you. Physical limitations of trains, and a lack of seat choice preclude moving away from a ‘temporary travel companion’ to take a call, so artificial lines of politeness have to be drawn for us. It feels like this is partially because technology, and in particular the current level of connectivity, is still a social novelty. We are all learning how and when it is socially acceptable to use our technology.  In the future will ‘physically social’ bind with ‘technologically social’ in a way that is seamless? Perhaps the awkwardness of having to tell people when to switch their electronics to silent will become something similar to a toddler who has yet to learn to control the volume of their voice, and Quiet zones such as this will be delineated by our innate perception of social norms.

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Low Fidelity, high complexity…

The importance of low fidelity modelling to the success of high level interaction is hard to overstate. Slowly adding in the detail as understanding increases, and checking the impact on the design.  It is often apparent when products have rushed this part of the design process, or been internally focused with testing.  The cost of being thorough at the front end will always be cheaper in the long run than a product that fails to perform.

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The hands tell a story…

An odd addition to the graphics on this sign is the detail in the hands.  I would like to know how they decided this detail would convey the message of the sign best. Either way it was noticed and noted.

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Calm before the storm…

Shutting the streets to traffic on a Sunday provides a very human perspective to the available space within what are normally quite dense cities.  Its also makes Sunday feel like a true day away from work.  The constant noise and movement of traffic can give cities the ‘always awake’ feeling.  But without traffic they change their character, and priorities. People come first, and the stress level is tangibly lower.

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Quilted…

The first post in a new category. This is going to focus on textures and finishes, easy to spot when you start looking for them, but a well chosen texture can make or break a project.

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Desirable Objects 2…

Pretty much the same situation as here beautiful, tactile, compelling objects.

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I hope you never have to use…

It must be interesting creating items you hope nobody ever has to use, yet are essential when needed. Functional items in this sense are often the most emotionally charged, both as a user and a designer…

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Breaking a habit…

139,000 cigarette butts are discarded every 15 seconds in the united states alone. (source) How can you persuade people to put them somewhere other than the ground? Should it go into landfill or is there a better use?  Can this context of scale be understood by someone holding, what to them, is only the smallest piece of litter?  How could design help change the social acceptability of throwing butts on the ground? Or in 40 years will we look at features like this on top of old bins and consider them quaint signs of an era?

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Ad-Hoc Weather Protection…

Protecting the touch points from rain. I wonder if its habit or related to the forecast?

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Antoni Gaudí…

Cranes don’t look out of place on Gaudi architecture. They are almost part of the intricate and changing nature of his work.

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Downtime…

Waiting, browsing, buying, updating.  Its now instinct to reach for your phone when there is a quiet moment. Its as if being on your own without having your smart phone in hand is a modern ‘uncomfortable silence’.  There is a comfort in being able to occupy your hands and eyes, and for appearances sake to be purposeful and busy.

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Tin Robots…

Items that are evocative of imagination and play.  No brand association, no agenda, no batteries, no social network required.  These guys could be ready to take over the planet, dig to the centre of the earth or travel into space… Whatever you want them to do on your carpet empire.

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Delight…

Details might be clever, novel or fun, or so subtle you might not identify them but they make all the difference. Details could be the difference between items that are treasured and items that are throw away.

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Furniture leads the way…

With the Milan furniture fair getting lots of coverage as usual, its interesting to see how many creative industries look at furniture/interior design as trend setting.  Perhaps this is due to the inherent hand made nature of furniture; Low volume production allows designers relative freedom with form, process and materials. Also any consumer purchasing the sort of furniture on display in Milan is likely making a purchases of passion. Furniture at that level is not a purchase of necessity.  large purchase decisions based essentially on visual preference is not a bad way of identifying current trends.  That and Milan is a nice place to be in the spring…

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Quiet moment…

how many times in your day do you find a chance to assimilate information, consider its importance and plan how to proceed without distraction?

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Polite Advertising…

A few thoughts accompany this poster… 1) Is it worrying that giving someone back their forgotten possessions needs advertising? 2) Ignoring point 1, this poster is indicative of a society where politeness is highly regarded. 3) On a busy subway does this subliminal advertising help keep busy, stressed, cramped people more rational and calm?

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Space saving…

Petrol pumps seem suited to being ‘grounded’. But removing stereotypical constraints and using a funneled approach to problem solving can lead to intriguing solutions such as mounting the nozzles in the ceiling in a space constrained city petrol station.

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The Hamburg tower feels like it was built on the aspirations of 1965,  Its a spaceship docked to the city. What will the buildings being built today say about our aspirations 60 years from now? Will they be as iconic, timeless and easy to date as this?

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Visible personality…

One of my colleagues photographs unintentional ‘faces’ he finds in products/the world, once you start looking there are a lot of ‘accidental faces’.  This hydrant is an easy spot, good in an emergency! Does its overt personality help remembering and identification?  I’m not advocating deliberate faces on design work, but as a serendipitous discovery are these hydrants easy to spot because of their clear personality and unique shape? With a trend to strip back and produce clean forms in current design, what level of design personality would make a difference to finding things in an emergency?

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Situation of use…

Would you be dryer folding the umbrella away and getting to your destination faster? This feels more like a habitual gesture to ‘feel dryer’ rather than a truly functional use. Does it highlight a useful product opportunity?

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Steal sign…

To create a system where everyone agrees to ignore the true physical value of something is rare.  The model only truly works when the function provides significant benefit over the monetary value, or in reaction to a need; Such as preventing road signs being stolen for scrap metal… 

 

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Worried about business…

Has he sold enough socks today? How could some design thinking help a small independent market seller increase their sales on the street? Social media seems to be a default answer from marketeers at the moment, but with such a cacophony, and large retailers paying large sums to be noticed, how much space is left for someone like a small seller? What would a designer offer, better signs, presentation of stock?  Perhaps some form of interaction with the product?

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Opposable thumbs…

How do you hold your hands when your not using them?  Pockets are so convenient and have become a default position along with using a mobile phone. What signals are you giving others with your hands as you simply walk down the street;  Cold, hot, fed up, got somewhere to be, browsing…?

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Street colours…

What colours does your eye seek out when you need a taxi? Black? Yellow? Mint green? Interesting seeing the colour pallet on the streets of a different country – how they blend, what they mean, and learning what to look out for.

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Fire the TV…

TV is a modern fire place; the focal point of most living rooms, but TV can’t compete with an open fire for person to person interaction and sensory engagement. Could future TV designs benefit by pushing the idea of a shared experience,  like sitting around a fire?  Its a shame people have to sit side by side in front of the TV, what if people were facing each other when watching TV? What if 2 people watching the same program saw different perspectives and were forced to share them to make a complete story…?

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In the dog house…

Left outside while the other half looks for a good deal?

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Clear signs…

Although its takes a certain level of knowledge for granted, the signs on the Tokyo underground system are incredibly clear and intuitive, once you know where your going!   The visual of these signs is distinct, observable from a distance and timeless.

Easy fix…

Breaking down in an old Toyota Land cruiser creates an appreciation for things you can fix yourself. Things that aren’t covered in a plastic mouldings, that don’t require a laptop to find out what’s gone wrong…

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Please make a photo…

At the Milan furniture fair this year there were two distinct trains of thought regarding photography. 1) Take photos, 2) Don’t take photos.  (There was also a grey area, “take photos… but not too close”)   Continue Reading →

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2 power stances.

Who will back down on the price? These two are saying more than the words…

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Seen it all before…

I get the impression nothing would surprise this fish market worker, and nothing would interrupt his cigarette break…

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Paper Rules…

At a time when seemingly anything is accessible on the internet, paper is still the default for some sources of information such a classic vehicles. Nothing other than a publication from the era might contain information about maintenance, history, or opinion at the time. In the transition to a paperless world what interactions and information are now overlooked? In the translation process, is there an unnoticed filter for things considered obsolete? How do you decide what is and isn’t? especially when your hands are oily…?

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Internet Zone

Access to the internet is available almost everywhere. People are more surprised, if not anxious, when they don’t have access to the internet on their phones.  Does this mean people are less independent / adventurous than we used to be? Or does technology simply allow us to explore further by providing the safety net of connectivity? How anxious would you feel taking a long journey without a mobile phone? How often are you truly un-reachable?

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Perception of Space

This car must have been pushed into place? How much does this space constrain the owners car purchasing decisions? Does the car lose some of its functionality in this space because the convenience of access is gone?

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Contact with a ‘stranger’…

There are very few occasions when contact with someone you might consider a stranger is acceptable.  Would you let just anybody rub your head on the bus?  Vanity is one of the key drivers in overcoming this barrier.

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Desirable objects…

It is easy to rose tint objects from the past.  The filter of time weeds out the weak leaving only the most desirable and charming examples. These objects also become hobbies and more of a pleasurable pastime rather than a necessary work tool changing the perception further. This example of a classic Olivetti typewriter used to embellish a stand at a furniture fair highlights how they are now coveted as objects that represent an ‘ideal’.  But its easy to forget the noise an office full of typewriters make, as well as the skill required to operate them effectively.  New keyboards are virtually silent, minimal key travel and suitable to the modern workload. But in 50 years will you pull out your keyboard from 2013 to write a thank you letter or wedding invitation?

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Empty Terminal…

A recent early flight out of terminal 5 at Heathrow meant the terminal building was all but deserted.  Interesting how large spaces, especially super functional spaces designed for crowds change character when devoid of people.

 

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Where am I going?

How do you find a Braille sign unless you know its there?  Easy, put it on something your hands would be ‘looking’ for.  I think this should be more mainstream – Underground station names on the stairs for instance?

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Shinkansen dinner…

TV reception at 200mph and a Bento box…

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Do you know who made…?

Its great to see people hand finishing products. With so much automated manufacturing, its a point of difference that might be enough to sway a purchasing decision.

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Bench with a view…

What came first the bench or the wall?

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Lighting up…

How does being required by law to move outside change the dynamic of smoking? Is there a similar positional distinction with other things that come with a health warning? Is it now seen as more of a courtesy to move outside?  Does the dynamic between smokers and non smokers shift weather dependant?

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Not fake…

Physical interaction can be more compelling than the visual treatment when building relationships with products. Technological improvements typically insulate us more and more from the action and reaction of how things work.  The ratcheting sound as you wind a new frame into place is addictive on this Yashica Mat. The innate physical link between the clockwork mechanism and the pressure needed to wind the handle tell you how the camera is functioning and confirmation that you are ready to take another shot through your fingers and ears without needing to look at the camera. More specifically these sorts of mechanical sounds are are often faked on modern products, semantically should they try? Does it cheapen the experience having a digital camera faking a film winding sound? At some moment the origin of the sound is lost for a new generation of users who have no experience of this era of product.  At what moment does a new paradigm need to be created to articulate our interactions? We are still ‘children’ in terms of dealing with this as consumers and designers. Mass market touchscreen phones being less that 10 years old mean we are still in the infancy of handling this ‘single tactile element’ style interaction with much to learn and explore, but also perhaps much to lose from the last 100 years of formal product design.