Some things we use in our daily lives irk us by reducing the quality of our user experience. What we don’t realise is that some of those bad designs were intentionally made to be so.
Now, by definition, bad designs are things which do not effectively serve the purpose you design them to serve. One could argue, by that definition, that if things are intentionally unpleasant, you can’t call them bad designs.
So, call it “unpleasant” design if that makes you feel more comfortable; the semantics aren’t important. What matters is that you have come across most of these objects, and boy, did they fool you!
Here’s what I’m talking about:
1. Airport seats.
Ever cursed this seat arrangement because you could not comfortably rest your neck on the seat back for the fear of bumping your head against the person sitting behind you?
If you thought that it was an unfortunate coincidence, think again. Those seat rows are intentionally arranged back-to-back in order to prevent people from falling asleep and accidentally missing their flights.
2. Poor layout of grocery stores.
In any large FMCG store, they place products like milk, bread and eggs at the back of the store.
When customers have to walk through the entire store to reach these products, it forces them to look at the other merchandise and encourages impulse buying.
3. Lack of windows and clocks in casinos.
Casinos do not have windows or clocks – basically, any means to alert customers of how much time has passed since their arrival. The end goal, of course, is to prolong the revellers’ stay for as long as possible, so that the casino makes the maximum possible profits.
4. Patanjali packaging.
I remember staring at a tube of Patanjali toothpaste that my father had enthusiastically bought a few months ago, and wondering what the hell the packaging designers were thinking. Surely Patanjali makes more than enough money to hire good graphic designers?!
It wasn’t until much later that i discovered that horrible design is intentional!
The average typography, distasteful colour scheme and primitive illustrations are designed to make the users believe that the brand is ‘rural’ and ‘pure’, untouched by bourgeois beauty; that it is so crude that they can’t access design. It plays with the buyers’ psyche by making the products look economical, original and ‘Swadeshi’.
5. Testicles Are Seriously Bad Designs
Seriously, why did God leave such fragile organs hanging unprotected outside the body? Biology fanatics would say it’s because your sperm production houses need to be cooler than normal body temperature.
But, nah. I think those precious balls were left out in the open so that, in the case of sexual assault by males, one can kick the offender in the nuts and buy some time to escape.
Ah, God, that sneaky bastard!
6. The QWERTY keyboard.
Back in the days of typewriters, if the arrangement of letters enabled typists to type fast, it would jam the keys. So Christopher Sholes, invented this unique arrangement of keys, to make typists go slower.
Today, you won’t jam your laptop keys by typing too quickly, so QWERTY is an unnecessary inconvenience. Or it would be an inconvenience if we hadn’t become so used to it already. At this point, using an ABCD keyboard would actually slow us down.
7. Darth Vader’s Suit
I know it looks sleek. Any Star Wars fan would probably trade their left arm to get to wear it to the next Comic Con (I know I would). But, hear me out.
Fictionally, Palpatine purposely made the suit clunky and finicky, to avoid Vader ever being able to overpower him. But, in reality, George Lucas made the suit top-heavy so that David Prowse looked uncomfortable on screen.
One of these is a joke (hint: Darth Vader’s suit is not), but you get the idea. Next time you see something that looks like a bad design, take a moment to really think about how it could be a “useful defect”.
It could save your life.
Or, at least, save your self-esteem from being damaged when you finally realise you were being fooled all along.
You’d also like to read: