The One Where We Redesign a Bunch of Things


We take a lot of crap for granted, but why should we? Designers get paid millions to tinker with brand logos while umbrellas around the world keep getting blown inside out — isn’t it about time we tackled life’s more pressing (or at least more annoying) problems? Herewith, a run-down of some of our design pet peeves. Add gripes of your own, but if you have a solution you better start fixing it instead of wasting your time commenting on blogs!

Turnstiles, the revolving door kind Always too hard to push, never big enough for you and your backpack (forget about your bike), and occasionally life-threatening when they whip around in the wake of a late-for-work suit.

Umbrellas They’ve been around for three thousand years and they’re still useless in a breeze. There are some alternatives, but nothing’s caught on. Why not? And why are they always black? Isn’t a rainy day dark enough as it is?

Paper coffee cups You all bring your own mug, right? So this isn’t an issue. But the slackers out there are sick of lids that drip or never stay on, and having to use those pathetic cup condoms to keep from burning their hands. I say: thicker skins and integrated lids. And they should cost extra, like plastic bags at the grocery store.

Phone books If we absolutely can’t get rid of them altogether, at least make them offer something a five-second Google search can’t. How about instructions for bypassing automated menus, or lists sorted by hours (I want a dry-cleaning place open late on Sundays), or tear-out maps/neighborhood guides, or coupons…

Strollers I live in Park Slope, so this one hits close to home. Enough with the Lil’ SUV aesthetic — I know you yuppies walk fast, but the stroll to Tea Lounge isn’t a roller derby.

Peanut butter/jelly jars Imagine how many sandwiches you could make out of the scraps of peanut butter and jelly you have to throw away because they’re sticking to the bottom of the jar. How about jars with convex bottoms that you store upside-down on their lids?

Toothpaste tubes Like the PB&J problem. There are plenty of useless gadgets out there to help you squeeze out every last bit, but what if we forget the tube altogether, and switch to jars of paste you dip your brush in? That won’t gross anyone out, right?

Condom wrappers Too slippery.

Exit Signs Too garish. Why not just a simple red arrow?

Outdoor trash can lids They’re impossible to put on, especially if they’re even slightly bent out of shape, which they always are. What if they had a that hatch that would pop open when you throw something in or turn the can upside down to empty it into truck? You wouldn’t have to mess around with a lid at all.

The country’s infrastructure No trains, bad roads, fossil fuels, clogged airports. Help!

Cereal boxes Our Cheerios always go stale anyway, even in the plastic bag, so why not get rid of it altogether? Or get rid of the box and make the bag thick enough to stand up on its own, like a coffee bean bag?

Tax forms The IRS takes all our money; it’s not fair they make us feel stupid too.