28 September 2009 ~ 1 Comment

Self-Referential Design?

This past weekend, my wife and I flew to Valparaiso, Indiana by way of Chicago O’Hare.  We had some terrific eats around the city, most notably The Bongo Room and snacks from Sensational Bites.  Oh, we also went to a wedding.  Congrats Wendi and Justin! ;-)

Back to Valparaiso and the Hampton Inn: one thing every hotel guest does is figure out how to take a shower or bath with a specific set of controls they likely haven’t used before.  Here’s a picture of the faucet from our room.

Would you think that the shower is dispensing hot or cold?  I say “cold” as the larger hand closer to me is pointing towards the blue notches on the dial with the blue “C” prominently displayed.

Let’s take another look at the dial, this time head on:

From this angle, the dial forms an arrow with the tip narrowing towards the red “H”.  Looking at the dial head on, I would have correctly guessed that hot water was on tap.

When you turn on the shower, do you stare straight at the faucet?  If so, you are also the kind of person who likes to be sprayed in the face with ice cold water.  You probably aren’t that kind of person :-)

Why do we have faucets whose behaviour is not predictable from both in and outside the shower stall?

What’s strange is that I doubt faucet designers haven’t bathed before.  Is it possible that our own experiences as designers aren’t sufficient for the task of design?

One Response to “Self-Referential Design?”

  1. Warren 26 November 2009 at 4:26 pm Permalink

    Maybe if you spent more time taking showers and less time thinking about it, you’d be a better person.

    However, having traveled in many hotels I can tell you some know how to do it and some are terrible. I have seen the exact dials you describe and they aren’t too helpful.


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