Swiss design?

All throughout college I've heard so much about how awesome Swiss design is. I've also seen a huge number of examples: books, posters, typefaces... I have to say, though, that generalizations of this kind are harmful. When you call something good or bad based on such a blanket definition, you are invariably not giving proper credit to some things and giving too much credit to others. A couple weeks ago, I did a post on signs that I saw back in the US. I pointed out that they were not in line with the original Helvetica Man design. While the Continue Reading

Oddly specific

Signs and labels of all kinds are a source of unending fascination for me. Today, I'd like to talk about two of them that I recently saw. You've probably heard about Helvetica Man (a term coined by Ellen Lupten). Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, I'm sure you've seen him a thousand times. Think back to the last time you visited restroom in a public place. Remember that pictogram that tells you which one is the men's restroom, and which one is the women's? In 1974, US Department of Transportation decided it was time to standardize the signs Continue Reading

The joys of Fiat 500

You might remember my earlier post on car temperature controls. Back when I wrote it, I thought those controls were the worst thing about cars. Enter my new arch-nemesis: Fiat 500. To cut the long story shot, somebody hit my car while it was parked, and it took over a month to get it fixed. In the meantime, the insurance company kindly provided me with a free Fiat 500. I must say I was not disappointed: the makers of this car managed to put a rotating knob for switching between getting air from outside and recirculating it. As far as Continue Reading

On hard dependencies

This week, there was a major power outage in the area where I live. We had no power in the house for over 20 hours. During this time, I learned a couple interesting things about my appliances. I have a gas stove, a gas tankless water heater, a gas furnace, and a gas fireplace. Before, I naïvely imagined that the benefit of gas appliances is that they would work during power outages. However, this could not have been further from truth. Disappointment #1: Hot water When I was a kid, I remember those evenings when we had no power, and Continue Reading

Just make them different

When two different designs or products look too similar, they invariably end up confusing users. Sometimes, it could be two different brands. Or two devices that have different purposes. Or walls that look too much like whiteboards. My example today will be of the two boxes of cereal. They are both made by the same manufacturer, and are usually placed on the same shelf right next to each other in the store. The crucial difference is that I love chocolate, but hate raisins. Now take a look at the packaging: This image reminds me of the "Find 10 differences" game. Continue Reading