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Open letter to designers of equipment

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I guess this qualifies as a rant.
I think the majority of product designers out there don't ever have to use the objects they design. I suspect they do it mostly on the drawing board (actually, computer program) and figure out solutions without consulting those who have to use them.
I have often thought i would write a version of dante's inferno - siduri's inferno - where i would force designers to use their own designs for eternity! (Number one goes to the designers of airline seats - they will have to sit in them for eternity - but that's off topic here).

The one that irritates me constantly is that as far as i know there is not one single salad spinner out there that has a pin (the thing that holds the inner basket up from the base) that is high enough so that the salad, once spun, isn't sitting in the very water you wanted to spin out of it. Smart, right? You spin it, but then have to dump the water at the bottom, spin again, dump again, and spin again. All you would need is an inch or even half inch clearance between the bowl and the basket, but none i have ever seen, at any price, have any more than 1/4 inch, if that much. (If anyone knows of any that have more, please let me know!)

Now there are some with holes in the bottom, where the water drains out, but then one of the great things of the salad spinner, that you can put the leaves under water and lift the basket to let the water and sedimented sand drain out, is lost. You can't really wash dirty salad under running water, unless you hold it leaf by leaf, certainly not in a basket, if you don;t want to risk tapeworm.
Even the perfunctory little channel they put on most is not large enough to really capture the water of a bowl of salad once spun. (And it irks me even more that if they put the channel there, then they must be aware of the problem - so JUST MAKE THE PIN LONGER! It's not rocket science!)

That's the most annoying.
here are a couple of others:
potato/carrot peelers that have such a short blade that the blade holder (top and bottom) scrapes into the potato as you peel lt. Make it longer!!! Make the holder flatter! (Only the really cheap ones seem to have that, no holder at the end, and a longer blade)

Another concerns the pouring spout of pots. Some pots have a nice feature, a pouring spout on one side. Now that makes sense, and i would imagine that there would be right-handed pouring spouts and left-handed pouring spouts on the market. Of course, like most things, that is not the case and the majority are simply designed in one version, for righties, and ok, i can;t complain, since i'm also right handed. But since they are not specific left-handed pots (which they should make and which should be just as easily available) why are they designed to pour with the right hand? I have never had to use a spout unless i'm pouring something slowly so that i can beat it with the other hand. Otherwise i just dump it in and who needs a spout? So some product designers have gone through the trouble of making a spout, but without any idea what it's good for. What it;s good for is to pour slowly while you stir with the other hand. And the other hand is whatever hand you mainly use. So for a rightie, you need to be able to pour with the left hand, because the right hand is the one you will stir best with, and the leftie will have to use the left hand to stir so will need to pour with the right.

Another rant concerns pots and pans. Most pots and pans have a little hole or ring on the handle so you can hang them. Not everyone hangs them, of course, maybe a small number of people hang them (i am one who does), but the fact that they make a hole at all means that they intend them to be hangable.
Now while my older pots all have a moveable ring at the end, that is thin and allows even two pots to hang on the same hook, the more modern ones i have have very thick handles and the hole is simply a hole through the handle, sometimes almost an inch thick. If you are hanging something at eye level, well, you can manage to maneuver the pot into the hook by lifting it almost horizontal to get it on the hook, but if you need to hang it higher it;s nearly impossible. And there is no room to hook another pot on the same hook.

Anyone have any others? I would love to write an article for a product designer journal from thye point of view of the user.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #2 of 22
There is a concept called "non-user testing," that, unfortunately, isn't used much anymore.

What happens is that somebody who has never used that equipment before puts it through it's paces. Everything from the instructions to hands-on use is evaluated. The idea is that someone not used to the equipment is more likely to come up with corrections and viable suggestions.

I think a combination of tests would be ideal. First a non-user test, followed by somebody experienced with the item and how it's supposed to work in the real world. An example would be your pour-spout comment. A non-user would never spot that as a problem (anymore than the designer).

Unfortunately, the costs of such evaluations preclude them from ever being more widely used. Alas. :(

Oddly enough, only my cheaper cookware has pour spouts at all. And they each have two, one on each side. So maybe the designers at the low end companies are more aware of user needs than the high-end guys?
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 22
Trust me, it isn't just cookware manufacturers. The slot machines I used to work on were way worse. Stuff like a bolt buried somewhere you can't see it and to get it out you have to lay your arm across a bunch of razor sharp metal edges.
post #4 of 22
Siduri:

Design? You want practical design in consumer items? Whaddya want, leave a kitchen gadget in your will to the grandkids?

They say that for example, the lion's share of money generated from a box of cornflakes goes to marketing.....

In a kitchen the cook is the creator, the designer, and s/he is stuffed in the back of the house where they belong, they just cost money. The money is in sales, a good waiter/ess can sell more booze than food and really make some money for the house. Product development just costs money, while on the other hand a good sales team can make you line up and scream for packaged fried wet cardboard. No money in design.

So why design something practical? You respond to market demand and make a salad spinner, it sells, the competitors come up with a better one, either you follow suit or drop the line, and pity the poor schmuck who bought the first salad spinner in the first place. This is progress, and you pay for it. We live in a disposable world, nothing's meant to last 10 or 15 years, because something new will come along and you'd better buy it.

End of rant.......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 22
I don't really like the pour spouts. And it's only my cast iron that has it as it turns out.
post #6 of 22
My favorite:

A Kitchen Aid blender that ejects its lid off as soon as the blender is turned on. Do you think anyone tested this model before it went into production? If so, I'd like to see their kitchen ceiling.
post #7 of 22
Ummmm... my personal experiences with the KA blendes is on the other end: The bottom screws off very easily, like, one full thead, no more. So if you happen to twist the said blender whil it is in the base, guess what happens?......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #8 of 22
My specaial place in h*ll awards go to: The inventors of the side post battery (ever try to jump-start one?) The formed plastic packaging on everything that requires a razor and makes breaking into Fort Knox look easy; seals on every bottle and jar that don't have the little central tab that lets you just pull it off (oddly enough, I first saw this feature on a generic product and it usually is only found on cheap items); the plasic sleeves and bags on crakers, cereal etc. that require a scissors or knife to open (they used to be waxed paper that you could just pull open, but if you try that now you have to pull so hard that when it does open everything inside erupts like a volcano all over the floor); the seals on CDs; lettuce and potato cases with no hand holes so you have to actually hug 'em to move 'em; afore-mentioned cases that do have hand holds with a warning to not use to lift case (!?) Never mind. The list is too long and life is too short, but it does make you wonder where common sense ever went.
post #9 of 22
A can opener that stays sharp easy to use for "older" or arthritic people.

H.
post #10 of 22
You know, Henry, it's good for the soul to have a quest.

One of the quests we in the cooking world have is the pursuit of a can opener that actually does the job.

We know there ain't no such animal, of course. But we keep searching nonetheless.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 22
Carrying a small pocketknife deals with all those concerns easily.

Phil
post #12 of 22
Henry -

try one of those side opening gadgets - I got tired of gooped up wheels and mismeshing gears so I went that route - I like mine. there's about $20 - I've got the Oxo but there are other brands.
post #13 of 22
Salad Spinner drill 2 small holes on bottom, one on each side. Make 2 plugs out of caulk or cork after washing in spinner remove the 2 plugs water will drain out. For pot rack get some S hooks. they allow you to hang 2 or 3 pots on each permanent hook.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
thanks ed - i understand there are ways around problems, but what i don;t understand is why I have to drill holes and use corks, (which i will definitely lose, being how i am) when someone is selling salad spinners for a load of money considering the cost to produce them and can;t bother to figure out something so simple as a longer pin!
i never had much luck wth s hooks, since they tend to come off with the pot. I don;t like the jiggliness when you try to hook them (and they turn) or take the pot off (when they come off with the pot)
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #15 of 22
KA fixed that one. The pitcher is now all one piece, without the screw-off bottom. Guess they felt the need to continue the opportunity for spillage so added the self-ejecting lid. I have to say the new pitcher is actually much better, at least for frozen drinks, but that lid is annoying.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I tried one of those and it's genial. No sharp edges to cut you, works like a breeze. However i never need a can opener here, since all cans have lift-off tops (you know, with the beer-can type tab that lifts the whole top off) and for those few where the tab breaks, after a little *%^#@!*&*% I pull out the old fashioned cheapo one at the back of the drawer and open it. Once a year i guess. (mostly i open beans or tuna or tomatoes).
These cans are probably the only packaging you find here that is actually user-friendly. Everythgting else either has too much glue so you try to open and the whole thing rips apart, or too little so the flour (or sugar or salt) is all over the shopping bag by the time you get home.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #17 of 22
>>since all cans have lift-off tops (you know, with the beer-can type tab that lifts the whole top off)

I'm not fond of those at all. as you mentioned some break off, others you need a pry bar to get them started... some are okay but the 'ease of opening quality' seems a difficult problem for manufacturers.
post #18 of 22

The salad spinner I use works just fine. I've never had to drain it twice.

post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Beebe View Post

The salad spinner I use works just fine. I've never had to drain it twice.


So, Nicholas, what brand is it.  I'll get one!

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
post #20 of 22

I love this post!  I have been frustrated by similar items many times, always leaving me to wonder what the design process was like.  But right now all I can think of, is my stupid hand sinks at work.  I work at a "cutting edge", high-end, Las Vegas resort that has been open for less than two years.  All of the hand sinks in our kitchen have these lovely, high-arching faucets that are great if you are using it to fill a tall pot, but if you actually just want to wash your hands, the faucet reaches to the edge of the sink basin.  Put your hands under the water and guess what happens?  Water all over your pants and shoes.  There is absolutely no way to wash your hands properly without this happening.  

And while I am on the subject of stupid hand sinks....about 6 months into this property's operations, the eco-friendly company decided to rip out all of the paper towel dispensers (literally thousands)  to replace them with ones that only spit out a few inches of towel at a time.  Then there is a wait before you can get a few more inches.  OK.  I am all for saving the environment, but please let me dry my hands first.

post #21 of 22

Sorry it took me so long to respond. I didn't see the thread get bumped. The brand is Dynamic. It's from a restaurant supply place and pretty expensive. I'm sure you could find one online, but it'll probably be at least $100.

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, I wanted to thank KY and others who recommended the oxo salad spinner.  I ordered one online to be sent to my friend in the states where i was able to visit this summer.  (It costs at least double here, by the way and is not easy to find except in expensive cookware shops).   It has a huge mound where the basket sits on and the basket is heavy duty material so it doesn;t seem it will start sagging as soon as i make a heavy big salad.  I will trust their authoritative opinion on the brand to reassure myself that the clear plastic won;t split (which has been my experience with other clear hard plastic objects like measuring cups.)  So thanks, my problem is solved.  (And i like the pushing mechanism rather than the crank my others all have).  It IS possible to make a good object that does what it is supposed to do in a way that uses the least time and energy possible.   

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
Reply
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