How Designers Destroyed the World

22 October 2013

Better late than never; I've managed to watch “How Designers Destroyed The World” by Mike Monteiro.

It's a great talk except that I'm not fond of the tone. Though it fits well with the content, I find it a bit overdramatic. The end is also a tad lengthy, which is unfortunate.

Otherwise, I liked what I heard. Which makes me consider…

Regularly, I find myself stuck with incredibly ill-conceived things that frustrate me. These objects, rules or designs are things as simple as an ATM, a software or a door. They make us loose time, or worse, do (severe) mistakes.

For example: there is a crossroad near my parents house. A few years ago, the mayor decided to remove the road signs at this place AND to not replace it. In France, there is an implicit rule which states that when there are no signs, you have to let the cars at your right cross the junction first. This rule is stupid. When you drive, you have no time to doubt. A sign serves primarily as way to convey a danger or a rule, without making you think. You know what you have to do instantly. If you see a stop sign, you stop. That is all.

This implicit rule makes us do the contrary. At a junction like the one I talked about before, you see nothing, so you have to think, analyze and react. It's easy to have a (minor) car accident there. Moreover, people of my town had used this junction for years, knowing precisely how to react. But now, the priority rule has changed, and it's a mess. The result? In the best case, everybody stop, wait for 10 seconds to analyze the place and then drive.

This is a result of a design decision. Someone decided to do that. In this case, someone decided to break something that worked well for all this time.

Sometimes, it might just be a dumb design that put you in an embarrassing situation. If you are a man, just remember the last time you have used a flat and too-high urinal. :)

When I talk about that with some of my friends, they think that I'm excessively demanding and that the problem is me. Perhaps.

I will conclude with a quote from the talk:

There are professions more harmful than (industrial) design, but only a very few of them.