In today’s world of product design there seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on homogenizing the shapes of things. Obviously this looks rather nice and makes for a pretty good looking ‘system’ of things that sit on the shelf well. Then along comes a project like this to remind us that we need to consider other aspects besides congruent shapes when thinking of functionality.
I am not sure if this was the main reasoning behind Vanessa’s shapes ( yes, I did not really read the article), but my takeaway from the images is that the set of in-congruent shapes would certainly have a benefit for a user in recalling what is on each of the drives.
Today, we have a lot of data. Although the cloud is coming, we still carry and store a lot of it on devices that are physical to us. Many times this data can’t be held on just one chunk of media for a variety of reasons. Just like days of old with floppy disks, it becomes hard to recall what exactly is held on each drive. Having a drive with a distinctive shape goes a long way to circumvent the issue.
Designers usually try and attack this sort of thing with a visual design or some sort of handy color-coding. But these devices are usually quite tactile in use and the project here seems to go a long way to treat this aspect. Seeing this implementation makes me think that in this day and age we haven’t really utilized the capabilities touch gives us in a conscious way. Being able to quickly reach for a media drive and understand generally what their content is without taking eyes off of other things is really a benefit that makes this project quite strong.
For many reasons (which I am sure I will revisit here) I think that designers get into the bad habit of forcing things into systems even though the functionality is obviously sacrificed for style. It would be nice to see a movement where we look at projects like this to truly address function before shoehorning things awkwardly into shapes that merely look good. Oh, and also to consider more deeply tactility as a legitimate form of communication and utility.