Responding to Modern Ease, Designers Build in Inconveniences

Modern technology has provided us with a seamless way of life, but we've also become accustomed to taking shortcuts.

If you're riding in an elevator modified by Germany's Folkwang University of the Arts, you would find yourself being dropped off at the floor below the one you requested, encouraging you to walk one flight of stairs to your destination. 

Folkwang design researchers found that most people don't request an elevator when moving up or down just one floor, so they reasoned that people would also accept walking one flight, encouraging exercise through a slight modification of modern convenience. 

The school has also modified a standard key rack, asking you to choose between your car key and bike key. If you choose the car key, the bike key falls on the floor, forcing you to pick it and reconsider your choice. And forcing a moment of choice is what works, says Matthias Laschke, a Ph.D. student at Folkwang:

"I think it's inhuman to force people to do something," Laschke says. "I also think people are too smart. When they figure out this system wants something they do not want to do, after a while I think they would stop using it. That's why this system is designed for you to cheat."

Over at Fast CompanyAdele Peters describes similar attempts being made by other designers:

"Other designers are working on similar approaches to behavior change. A new stool is designed to wobble slightly as you sit at work, forcing you to pay attention to your posture and keep your legs active. A new desk lamp turns on only if you put your smartphone inside, helping you curb your addiction to texting."

Designers draw inspiration from their everyday surroundings, and today, we're all surrounded by convenience. Modern technology has provided us with a seamless way of life. We move effortlessly from parking garage, to elevator, to desk, all while answering emails on smart devices. But we've also become accustomed to taking shortcuts. We shirk the extra effort that gave our ancestors exercise, jobs, and perspective on the important things in life.

Milton Glaser, creator of the "I Love New York" logo, has had one of the most distinguished design careers of any living American artist. He tells Big Think his childhood inspirations and influences and charts his artistic evolution:

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

This 5-minute neck scan can spot dementia 10 years before it emerges

The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.

Mikhail Kalinin via Wikipedia
Mind & Brain
  • The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
  • Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
  • The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
Keep reading Show less

Juul to stop selling most e-cigarettes in stores, leaves social media

Facing mounting pressure from the public and government agencies, the e-cigarette maker announced major changes to its business model on Tuesday.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Juul makes flavored e-cigarettes and currently dominates the vaping industry, with 70% of the market share.
  • The FDA is planning to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations and convenient stores this week.
  • Some have called teenage vaping an epidemic. Data from 2018 show that about 20% of high school students had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
Keep reading Show less