Things I’d like to design

June 4, 2016 Design
Architecture
Travel

Designing websites and apps and stuff is all well and good, but there are a few other things I’d like to design before my eyes & hands give out - not because I think I’d be fantastic at them, just because I think they’re fascinating things to design. You’ll notice they all have a permanence which working on the web lacks. My best work as a designer of software is already mostly all gone forever, and I like the idea of creating something permanent, something which ages and decays in the real-world, something you can touch and smell.

An Aircraft Interior

I’m fascinated by the design challenge of a commercial aircraft interior - with their endless list of constraints and the influence design can have on an experience spectrum which truly goes from god awful to truly incredible.

Virgin America’s cabin lighting & Air New Zealand’s Skycouch are two really inspiring examples of innovative design work which doesn’t have to be the preserve of those at the pointy end of the plane, where the likes of Etihad prefer to flex their design muscle.

I’ve flown a lot in the last couple of years and as a customer often find myself reflecting on how small ideas can really help ease the physical and mental stresses of travel - I’d love to spend some time thinking about that.

A House

I suppose designing a house is really the preserve of an architect, but when I think about the kind of house I’d like to design I see it without the distinction of the building itself and the less celebrated work which goes into turning a house into something which has character and a sense of place - the way you furnish it, paint it & live in it.

The Tiny House Movement fascinates me as a designer and someone who feels the stress of abundant spaces and the temptation to fill them with stuff.

Corkellis House by Kathryn Tyler & The Schaffer Residence are two of my absolute favourites for their bold, classic aesthetic, restrained use of of material & the way that light is used in both as a material.

I find myself watching Minka and referencing the book of the same name very frequently. I’d love to design a home which could be the centrepiece of such a beautiful human story as that.

A Shop

Perhaps the stepping stone to designing a home of such ambition, designing a shop strikes me as a marvellous way to inflict my personal design ideals on the unsuspecting public in a far more direct way than I can on the web. I also happen to live in a city which boasts some beautiful stores.

Misc. Store curates a beautiful selection of goods for the stationery obsessed, and marries that with a store which is both respectful of the goods, and shares with them an ethos about simple, quiet materials and colours. I love the idea of designing a physical space like this and the opportunity to design for multiple senses - thinking about how your music marries with your products, and how your lighting can guide customers through your store. Hutspot is another of my local favourites.

A bit further away from home the striking exterior of the Starbucks store in Dazaifu amazes me every time I see it.

A Car UI

I don’t drive, but I grew up in a driving family. My dad worked in the logistics industry, and I spent a lot of my youth sitting along-side drivers as we zig-zagged across the UK. I witnessed the struggles driver’s have adapting from one car brand to another, and the lack of progress in Car UI design when all around it consumers we’re being treated to ever improving interfaces.

For all that Tesla as a company is fascinating, I am not as enthusiastic about their UI which feels like an awkward step in between old-fashioned dials and buttons, and something more integrated into the build of the car.

I like the idea of designing for the various users of a car, whereas the focus typically lays with the person buying the car - the driver - I feel like there is much to do for those us riding in the other seats, and as self-driving cars and car-hailing become the norm, the passenger experience will at some point overtake the driver experience as the default persona against which to design.

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