One of the first science lessons we learned in school dealt with the evolution of man and his basic needs for survival. If you recall, we were taught in school that "food, clothing, and shelter are the basic needs of man." The need for food, clothes, and shelter altered with the evolution of man. Why did his needs evolve over time? The straightforward explanation is that as man progressed, he began to question and challenge his way of life. These difficulties demanded better requirements, which satisfied his desires and enhanced his experience.
Man shielded himself from the weather by building a roof over his head and covering his body with clothes. Concrete ceilings in our homes today are an evolution from the original roof, which was constructed of leaves and twigs. Consider your morning routine as an example. You open your eyes and look up at your room's ceiling. Your eyes will be protected by this roof from the morning's glaring sunshine. A design serving a specific function.
You then get out of bed and go to the washroom to freshen up. Once again, you see a door; an example of a man-made design interface. Everyone prefers to close the washroom door while using it. We all do it for a variety of reasons. Some people could find it to be the ideal setting for getting some alone time and uninterrupted thought-processing time. However, a more simple explanation would be that it is a location where we remove all the dirt. An area that is preferable for each user to have privacy in.
Let's not even consider the prospect of your washroom having a door. Brushing your teeth is one of the most common morning activities. Most of us do this with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You might wonder what's so unique about a toothbrush or why we are discussing it in terms of design. Let's travel back in time a little bit. Before toothbrushes were invented, man utilized twigs, salt, and even roots to clean his teeth. Over time, these alternatives evolved and ultimately led to the toothbrush's design. According to a study, the most agonizing pains are those associated with childbirth and dental nerve injury. You can take a wild guess why man believed it was crucial to have good oral hygiene.
The toothbrush we use now has seen significant change over the years. This evolution is the outcome of dealing with various problems and making efforts to resolve them. If you look closely, the latest toothbrush has an extremely ergonomic design. When you forgot to bring your toothbrush to a friend's house, you may have occasionally tried brushing your teeth with your finger. Although it might not be the optimal option, it makes a good short-term fix. Naturally, your finger won't be able to reach every crevice in your teeth and gums. You wouldn't benefit from deep cleaning your teeth and removing tartar, either. A toothbrush's bristles are made specifically to clean in-between-tooth spaces. Reaching every area of your mouth is easier because of the structure's long and slender shape. To help you clean your tongue, certain brushes have a textured pad at the back of the head. We even have brushes that rotate their heads automatically so you don't have to exert the extra effort of rubbing the brush against your teeth.
The toothbrush is an example of a design that engages all of your senses. You have a tactile sensation when you hold the brush and brush your teeth and gums with it. To make sure you reach and brush every crevice in your mouth and make sure it is thoroughly cleansed, you must glance in the mirror, providing you with a visual experience. You can taste the toothpaste you use since it has a peculiar flavour. Before brushing, you can already smell the odour, so you make an effort to mask it by using flavour-infused toothpaste. Undoubtedly, the sound you hear when brushing your teeth comes from the friction between the brush and your teeth. Just give it some thought. All of your senses are used in the very first thing you do in the morning! For someone who is not a morning person, that would be too much!
An excellent design, in actuality, appeals to all of your senses. A good design pinpoints the issue, presents a fix, and enhances the user's overall experience all at the same time. Design is not merely restricted to the product's form, colour, or material. It involves the aspects previously stated, that come together during the evolution of a product.
The same logic applies when using toothpaste. Given the variety of choices on the market, you don't just go pick up the first one you come across. You become aware of the most well-known brands on the market through media, other platforms, or even word of mouth. You then go out and see those brands on the shelves before deciding whether or not to buy one. This seemingly straightforward decision requires a lot of thought. If you give a brand a try and realize you like it, you'll probably stick with it for a while. Design has a significant role in stimulating this thought process. Have you ever observed that toothpaste typically falls into the white and blue colour spectrum? If you recall, we talked about the impact of colour psychology in our prior conversation. In this instance, the same is applicable. Most of the time, blue is associated with water and waterbodies, like the ocean. Things that make you feel refreshed. Even before applying it, the sight of a blue paste with white crystal-like particles gives it a pleasing aesthetic and a feeling of freshness. Your perception of a certain product is influenced by this perception.
Not just with regard to toothbrushes and toothpaste, but also in everyday experiences and decisions, perception is important. Why does donning a Burberry or Tom Ford suit make you feel strong? Why does wearing any luxury brand make you feel special? You think of it as the same because of the perception that the brand has fostered among its target markets. You believe their items are of the highest quality, and you never have a doubt about it.
Resuming our conversation on toothpaste, we can use it as a great example of the Indian market and its perceptions. If you recall, tooth powders rather than toothpaste were initially available in the Indian market. These powders tasted somewhat herbal and mildly spicy. Toothpaste eventually took the place of tooth powders. The Indian audience favoured similar toothpaste flavours since they were more accustomed to and familiar with the spicy taste. At that time, companies like Colgate created a paste that was red in colour and slightly spicy. Even today, there are still a lot of companies that have introduced ayurvedic or herbal toothpaste that taste more like herbs than mint.
Design plays a significant role in establishing this overall experience while building a product. And the visual aspects that are provided have a significant impact on this experience. Imagine waking up and opening the curtains to see a slum. Now imagine yourself waking up to the sight of mountains and lush, green trees. Which one do you like best? Most definitely the latter. Apartments with stunning views, like Central Park, are more expensive than apartments with ordinary views or no view at all in cities such as New York, which are concrete jungles. It's the same in our city. Our immediate environment has a significant impact on how we think and feel. Each of us treasures getting away occasionally to unwind and perhaps collect our thoughts. You might have noticed that despite not having access to your usual comforts, like the internet when you wake up in the countryside, you nevertheless feel more energised and refreshed. This is so because it has always been how humans have been wired. Your senses' experiences and feelings directly affect how you view the world and how you think.
If we discuss fashion, we realize how personalized it is. In the clothing you believe best represents your personal style, you feel empowered and certain. That is entirely your perception and nobody else’s. Then you proceed to spritz your preferred fragrance, which elevates the entire experience. Why the fashion and beauty industries have prospered is not surprising. Both of these businesses have unquestionably changed over time and have a rich history of evolution. The most important factor in these industries is design, and these designs also have a reason.
In conclusion, design plays a role in the evolution of any product or thing. When we say "design," we mean the reasoning behind it. the reasoning behind how it functions, what it accomplishes, where it operates, and every small aspect of the same. be it a toothbrush, a car, or a building. Furthermore, it is crucial that everything is supported by reasoning. We must pay close attention to, comprehend, and examine these nuances if we are to create a good community, nation, or world. Once we have a better understanding of it, we may attempt to enhance these designs' experience for the user.
As we already covered, design is not just about colours and patterns. Evolution, history, logic, reasoning, function, form, perception, and colour are all important factors in design. Its purpose is to improve our lives by making them simpler, more effective, and more experiential. We shall be able to live happily, more fully, and in the moment owing to this experiential living. The world will transform into a better place for all of us to live simply by understanding design.
This article and the content is copyright protected. Copyrights: Dhruva S. Paknikar 2022.