Friday, November 5, 2010

Conundrum: To Hide Or Not To Hide

This is a cellular repeater; what it does is allow cell phone users to have continued reception in remote areas. However, locals have complained about the ugly towers. What to do? Make them look like trees! Now, the collective Bauhaus would probably roll over in their plain, minimalist graves. However, this is probably a 'good enough' solution no non-designer would seek to change. But, is that really a problem? If the people are content, is it a successful design solution?


  1. See the comment is always "If its not broken, why fix it"

    People who it does not affect (i.e people living elsewhere) would simply not bother with this problem, because it does not concern them.

    So the question is, If the problem does not concern us, or distress us, do we still try to solve it?

    I think it is a successful design solution, because people are content.
    Design does not need to fabulous or minimalistic to be considered a "good" or "successful" design soultuion.
    It is simply a means to an end.

  2. I disagree.
    We cannot decide whether a design is good/successful or not merely by measuring if it solves the problem which initiated the design. Think about these questions: does it create some new problems? if any, how big are the new problems? is it worth the trade? does it create problems for entities other than the user themselves, e.g. other people, animals, environment, future generations? again is the worth the trade? is it even fair for us(designers) to choose the trade? and even if only the user(locals) is concerned, are they really content just because they say so, or not, just like users often don't know what they really want?

  3. I would have to agree with Karan on this, because to say that users don't know what they want is really calling them stupid. People know what they want and desire. Just because we are designers doesn't give us some sort of godly power to tell people what they need.

    Yinan, however brings up a good point about thinking about new problems a solution creates and their consequences. But in this case I would say it's minimal.

    (I'm sure this solution could have been resolved more thoroughly, in a way that makes it look less like a plastic Christmas tree.)

  4. I agree solution should have been more than a christmas tree.

    Really good questions Yinan. Hmm what problems does it create and is it worth the trade.

    But though we study design, we cant say people dont know what they want, they do, they just cant convey it.
    We can not consider ourselves the "elite" simply because we know something someone else might not.

  5. I think we have a misunderstanding here on what I mean by "people often don't know what they really want".

    Steve Jobs said:
    "If I asked someone who had only used a personal calculator what a Macintosh should be like, they couldn't have told me. There was no way to do consumer research on it, so I had to go and create it, and then show it to people, and say now what do you think?"

    People are not stupid. But it is not their expertise to envision what they would want or need.
    A designer's job is not to just do consumer research n then give them what they want. We are creators, creating things people never seen often never even imagined. If they never imaged it, how would they know they want it or not?

    Apart from a few in the silicon valley, who wanted a personal computer before it was created? Were they not content with the calculators and typewriters?

  6. I think everything should have something eccentric and fascinating about them, whether in form or function. People can tell us what they need, and to an extent (if we 'get' what they are saying) what they want, but only when we really step into their shoes enough to turn what they want into what we want would we ever give them something with that certain essence. There's a very slight difference when you actually believe in what you make as you make it, as opposed to designing as a means to an end.