In a previous post I wrote about the use of glass awnings in a horizontal position, and how they get dirty too damn quickly (you can read it here). Well strolling through the park the other day, from a distance I noticed this. The public toilet has a flat roof. But what also caught my attention was that I could see branches on top of the roof. Was the intention of the design, to collect foliage?. I’m sure the designer did not think of that.
Closer inspection revealed the following:
Branches, twigs, leaves, dirt, and bark.
When designing your product, in this case an architectural product, a block of toilets, you need to consider the environment in which it will be built. This location is in a park, surrounded by large trees.
Nature sheds like a cat!
So why would you design your toilet block with a flat roof? A roof that will be a catch-all for all that nature can provide. Who will clean this mess? The wind? Will the mess injure somebody when it comes tumbling down in one great heap? Will the roof collapse from the weight and possibly crush somebody inside? Hmm, didn’t think of that.
This is what happens when we design in isolation, when we don’t visit the location we are designing for, when we don’t put ourselves in our product’s shoes, YES, our product’s shoes.
A key design skill is empathy, empathy for all the different types of users that will use your product. But something that is usually not taught, is that you also need to have
empathy for you product.
As a designer you need to put yourself in your product’s shoes. Where will I live? What weather will I endure? How will people treat me? How will people use me? How will nature treat me? Do I need protection? How long will I last? Do I need cleaning? How often? Why? etc etc etc
Don’t just design the toilet, be the toilet, hahaha.
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