This week’s design “Under the Lens” is a hair dryer. As usual, it goes from the bad to the good qualities of the design. Lets get judging then!
A little background on the device.
This dryer is called the “Column” and called so appropriately. It is a tall cylinder and is a re-design of the normally gun-shaped hairdryer. Made by a design firm called Ahhaproject, based in South Korea. This design is set to be implemented at big name hotel chains like Hilton and Peninsula in the Asia region.
First off, the design specs. From the page in Yanko designs, I found out that the it has a diameter of 7 inches. And it is quite tall. Look at this use case picture from their website for reference to the design’s scale. Immediately, a few usability issues pop-out at me.
The diameter is too large for it to be held easily. Even in their own picture, the hand doesn’t go around the product completely. There is hence an inherent risk of either dropping the device or gripping it too tightly causing discomfort in the wrist and palm.
The next is the cylindrical form. There is a reason why a gun shape is useful. That reason is the orientation and angle of the wrist while using it. At no point of time is the wrist at an awkward angle and this makes it comfortable to use. Now, look at this cylindrical shape. Imagine using it; the wrist has to tilt to extreme angles when you reach the top of your head. This can be compared to triceps extension exercise with dumbbells. The wrist starts paining after only a few seconds of usage. But with a gun shaped design, this doesn’t happen.
Another gripe about this design is that the long form needs the hands to be raised higher above the head which then leads to shoulder discomfort. If you want to hold it closer to the top, in which case you wouldn’t raise your hands higher, there is more weight away from the hands, making it tough to balance. Also, the device looks heavy and this adds to further pain in using it.
The last negative about this design is the way it is placed. It has a small stand, which is also a cylinder.
The stand and the dryer have a lip and groove feature to easily fit together. While all that is good, the surface area in contact between the stand and the drier is too less and there is a risk of the device toppling if not placed back in the stand carefully. Also, even a small force to the top or the middle might be enough to knock it down; which is not good. You never want the users to feel stupid because of a flaw in the design.
The designers say it is intuitive to use. Yes; the cylindrical form is intuitive to pick up and use, but the negatives mentioned above make it cumbersome to use. Another important consideration the designers seemed to have missed is that the average size of palms of people in Asia is considerably smaller than say, Europeans or Americans. This further amplifies the difficulty in holding the long, 7 inch diameter device.
Now, the positives of the design. The overall form is aesthetic. A neat cylindrical shape with no un-necessary surface detailing keeps it clean and simple. The matte finish texture provides a good grip and prevents accidental slips and drops. Also, the wire comes out through the stand, which I think is a brilliant design decision. The cylindrical shape makes manufacturing easy and cost effective. Storage is easy as well as it has a small footprint.
Would I buy this product? “No” would be the answer. Though it looks cool, I don’t think it is very user-friendly. But, I do realize that this was meant to be an eye-candy addition to luxury hotel rooms and not for consumers like me.
New day, new product, new things learned. This critiquing exercise is really helpful in understanding the mistakes made by others, and helps me avoid such mistakes in my designs.
Until next time, cheers!