Design of Everyday Objects

The following objects centre around my residence. The first few days living here was a huge learning curve. 

Object #1: Water Taps

I use the water dispenser taps every day, multiple times a day. The water dispenser is located in the kitchen on every floor in my hall.

 Affordance and Signifiers

The colour of the taps afford temperature of water flow. A water tap is typically turn on with a turning or pushing mechanism.  The signifiers of temperature colour-coded taps: pink for hot and blue for cold. These colours are universally known as hot and cold respectively. The groove at the top of the handle indicates a space for the hand to use force to push against. However, there was a further step needed for a steady flow of hot water: I had applied the same motion I did with the cold water and we met with drops of hot water. My next thought was to turn the handle clockwise to increase the pressure; that did nothing. I started to figure out the difference between the two taps. The pink tap has an additional lock mechanism that needed to be lifted while the tap is being pushed down. Even though this lock mechanism is designed to keep the user safe, it requires more signifiers that it needs to be lifted simultaneously. 

Object #2: Exit Button 

I’m not used to having to press a button to exit a locked door from the inside. I remember shaking the gate trying to get it to open until someone told me that I had to press a button. The design of the button is clear: you have to press it for it to create an output but the output is unknown. The white button is situated right beside a box with a confusing message: It gives the message of “break glass to door release” but it is in a green lockbox. This is the only item that has clear signifiers of a door release to leave the building. Therefore, this exit button does not afford to unlock a gate. It requires signifiers to tell the user to press the button for 2 seconds in order to unlock the gate. The location of the button could also be moved to be closer to the gate. 

Author: Jessie Zhou

Graphic design exchange student from the University of Waterloo in Canada

Leave a Reply