When Designers Don't Consider That End Users Must Physically Clean Their Designs

One of my gripes with designers of multiple fields–architecture, interior design, industrial design–is that they’ll often design things with no thought to basic maintenance. By which I mean cleaning.

Here’s a second-story window in my house. It is festooned with cobwebs, dirt and dust, and is impossible for me to access and clean (never mind open the window) because it is sited over a stairwell. In the photo it might look like it can be reached from the landing; trust me, it can’t. I’ll need to buy one of those funky stair-straddling ladders, or rig something up, in order to get up there.

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This is the silicone keyboard crumb-catching cover I had to buy for my MacBook. Laptop designers don’t consider, or don’t care about, the sad reality that many of us take meals at our computers.

Here’s my OXO can opener. Works great as a can opener, but is just about impossible to clean with a dish sponge and even a toothbrush.

Here’s an egregious example: Imagine you’re an exhibition designer hired by the UK’s Royal Air Force Museum. You come up with this visually striking scheme of suspending the planes, some of them vertically, within the exhibition space via cables. You deposit your paycheck and move on to the next project. Meanwhile, once a year these maniacs from Arco Professional Safety Services have to climb up there with industrial Swiffers to dust the things:

After mentioning this to my wife, she brought up a hospital room she’d visited where the phones were specially designed with flush-mounted surfaces, including the keypad, that made them easy to wipe down and disinfect. So, a shout-out to you medical designers out there.

Looking around your home, office, garage or even car, what are some of the items that you find difficult or impossible to clean?

Source: core77

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