and the Senses

Humans possess five senses. That's the conventional wisdom. Now go to a department store. Find the household goods section. Look at all those coffee makers, electric irons, toasters, washing machines, and other little helpers of the houseperson.

Cool, you say, don't they look great? Fast styling, trendy colors - those industrial designers, what a great job they did!

Or what?

Take a closer look. Touch the buttons, turn the knobs, move the slides and doors. What do you feel?

If your departments store is like mine, those buttons wiggle and screech, parts of the enclosures rub on one another producing ugly sounds; the innards of the toaster rattle with cheap tin. If your reaction is like mine, you will probably turn around and postpone your purchase indefinitely.

For the past five million years or so we have relied on our five senses. Our senses protected us from nasty surprises originating from stalking predators, spoiled food or aggressive human counterparts.
They now protect us from unpleasant experiences with unreliable, shoddy products.

We interpret - unconsciously - the rattle of lose parts, the looseness of a button and the screeching of a slide as indicators of short life, excessive wear and unreliable operation. That's not what we spend our money for, says or subconscious.

Designers are only beginning to consider all the human senses and to design products that do not only look sharp but also sound good, feel good, and maybe in the future, smell good and taste good.