Design isn’t easy

A few years ago I gave up alcohol, as a result I don’t really go to pubs anymore except occasionally for something to eat. Last year I was in a pub in Stockport having a meal with the family. This pub had obviously had a major facelift and to be fair it looked really, really nice.

Design isn't easy

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

I think the brewery had probably worked with an interior designer because the attention to detail and grandeur of the place made it look more like a high end restaurant than somewhere you’d nip into for a quick pint.

So the meal came and it was well cooked and nicely presented and the service was also really good. Then I nipped off to the toilet. You’re probably wondering right about now just where this is going but bear with me!

The toilets were spotless and gleaming, resplendent in brushed chrome. There was just one small problem, I couldn’t operate the hi-tech taps. After a really frustrating five minutes I finally got them to work by hovering my hands close to a tiny sensor that was placed completely out of my sight. It wasn’t intuitive (at least not to me) and there were no instructions, it was just assumed that I’d know how to use them. To be honest I was a bit embarrassed that I’d had so much trouble and it got me thinking.

Is there really anything wrong with the humble tap and did it really warrant such a dramatic technological facelift? Has someone fixed a problem that didn’t exist and caused a problem by doing so?

I’m all for innovation, it’s how we move the world forward and make things interesting and fun for future generations. Part of me thought this new tap design was really quite interesting and it would probably work really well for people with arthritis or joint problems who might struggle to physically turn conventional taps on and off.

This demonstrates how difficult the process of designing something can be.

As designers we’re tasked with making things that look nice, work well and help to improve the world around us. But we’re also charged with a responsibility to make sure that our work doesn’t complicate people’s lives or confuse or alienate them.

Design isn’t easy.