Great design is all around us

This is the one in a series of (at least) 30 posts I’m going to write this month as part of what Wesley Zhao and I have dubbed No-Blog-Sloth November Challenge. One post will appear here a day from now until the end of November.

Yesterday I was sitting in my design class (ironic I know) and just sort of looking at the table we were all sitting around. It’s a reasonably small class so we all just sort of congregate around this conference table of sorts and talk about what we’re working on.

As I was looking at the table, I noticed it was oddly shaped. Basically the table was slightly wider around its middle, and slightly shorter at either end. What a useless piece of design I thought. What’s wrong with making a rectangular table? Clearly someone was just trying to make a more expensive version of their regular model of table, and so decided to slightly change the shape for no good reason – maybe to make it a little more “sleek”. 

Just as I was getting becoming satisfyingly self-righteous, the “Aha!” moment came. And I have to say, that table design is absolutely genius in its subtlety. The slight tapering of the table meant that the widest point of the table is right in the middle. Which also meant that people sitting on either end of the table could see eachother, instead of being blocked by the people in the middle. It’s kind of like stadium seating for tables. 

I was so struck by this because it’s one of those little tiny functional design elements that are present in every day things that we don’t really notice. It makes our lives massively better, but with such a small tweak that unless you were paying attention it would be very easy to miss it. In my class I sit at one end of the table and never have to lean forward or backward to see who I’m talking to because everyone is in full view.

See you tomorrow 🙂

3 Nov 2011, 1:57pm | leave a comment


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