Response on ‘The Psychopathology of Everyday Things’ from The Design of Everyday Things

Three teapots: as works of art in the window above the kitchen sink. (Author’s collection. Photo by Ayman Shamma.) Source:


‘The Psychopathology of Everyday things’ gave a more profound approach to design considerations which I usually abide to. As a design student, discoverability and understanding, unconsciously form part of the design thinking and process that I follow to conceptualize and design. Those terms were not properly defined prior to the reading but were internalized and naturally occurring. I had this misconception that ‘good design’ only applied to tangible objects that were intelligible and intelligent in form and function. But I came to realize that design itself extends far more than just the physicality of an objects, like the book indicates. And as I go further into the reading, I can see how human centered design plays a bigger role in ‘good design’.

One cannot deny the fact that human-centered design or user experience design has drastically grown in demand, because it has become a norm, people nowadays expect things to be well designed. “People are frustrated with everyday things. From the ever-increasing complexity of the automobile dashboard…”, this statement is now fairly obsolete as per the new standards. For instance, the brand-new Tesla model 3 car offers no instrument cluster, a clean dashboard, a refined digital interface to control the car and maximized space efficiency, everything to cater for the needs of the user. But then again, as human beings, we are never satisfied fully.

The affirmation of products having too many functions and controls is/was a reality, one example I can remember was the TV remote control. Many buttons and many functions but nobody ever understood how it all worked. However, this was the past, nowadays we see remote controls, clean as a pebble, sleek, sophisticated, and minimal. Like Dieter Rams would say, good design is, as little design as possible. Digitization made analogous product more user-friendly and more functional at the same time. Ultimately, an increase in functionality will also increase the design challenges which are now in a digital form.

We shall not wait long before Artificial Intelligence gets implemented into machines and takes over the digital platform. Even the complexity of human nature could somewhat be paralleled by this new technology. Human-machine interaction would be more seamless and designs more efficient and effective. I believe that AI may replace us designers one day.

Finally, I can say that, given the complexity of human nature and how we keep on evolving, human-centered design is ever-changing too and so will the benchmark of what defines ‘good design’.