Everyday design: your secret weapon in creative problem-solving

One of my great pleasures is spotting ordinary objects transformed in the wild in order to overcome a recurring issue, or what I like to call ‘Everyday Design’.

Everyday Design sees things added. Bent out of shape. Lent against one another. Sellotaped. Superglued. Whatever it takes for them to perform as intended, or even better than the original.

Examples include plastic bags on bike seats to keep them dry. Mobile phones taped to helmets to enable hands-free calls. Ad hoc bridges to help ducklings get out of fountains. Crosses put on windows to stop birds flying into them. Index fingers cut out of gloves. Skeletons in the passenger seats of car sharing lanes. Fanning out the paper sauce cups at McDonald’s to fit more in.

“If you’re not present, you don’t have access to wisdom.”

Eckhart Tolle

Also filed under “Struggle marks”

This Twitter post by Kristen Seversky uncovers more. Failures disguised as everyday markings, they’re the missed key hole scrapes, handprints on a glass door you pull, shortcuts across parks, and so on.

These instinctive acts are done without any deep thinking, however once you open yourself up to them, you see more potential everywhere. It’s the difference between someone who makes do and someone who makes good.

As I’ve said before, unloved experiences are a gateway to breakthrough products and services. The key to spotting them is staying curious and be on the lookout. It’s an easy way to soak up more inspiration and hone your instincts, without ever having to venture outside of your comfort zone.

How can you open your eyes to more Everyday Design?

  1. People watch. Observe human behaviour and let the idea come to you. Embrace idle time. Opt for the window seat. Run. Walk. Cut back and let loose.
  2. Snap away. Take photos. Lots of them. Capture the innate ways people interact with the world around them and let them lead you to new ideas.
  3. Borrow. Define a problem to work on first and let it percolate for a few days. Everyday life will expose you to lots of potential solutions, often where you least expect them. Don’t forget, real artists steal.

So, be nosy. Hunt out daily discontents. Applaud DIY fixes.

Consider this an open invite to embrace more ‘Everyday Design’ in your life. Spotted something new? Send me a tweet and sign-off with the #everydaydesign hashtag.

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