One of my gripes with designers of multiple fields--architecture, interior design, industrial design--is that they'll often design things with no thought to basic maintenance. By which I mean cleaning.
Here's a second-story window in my house. It is festooned with cobwebs, dirt and dust, and is impossible for me to access and clean (never mind open the window) because it is sited over a stairwell. In the photo it might look like it can be reached from the landing; trust me, it can't. I'll need to buy one of those funky stair-straddling ladders, or rig something up, in order to get up there.
This is the silicone keyboard crumb-catching cover I had to buy for my MacBook. Laptop designers don't consider, or don't care about, the sad reality that many of us take meals at our computers.
Here's my OXO can opener. Works great as a can opener, but is just about impossible to clean with a dish sponge and even a toothbrush.
Here's an egregious example: Imagine you're an exhibition designer hired by the UK's Royal Air Force Museum. You come up with this visually striking scheme of suspending the planes, some of them vertically, within the exhibition space via cables. You deposit your paycheck and move on to the next project. Meanwhile, once a year these maniacs from Arco Professional Safety Services have to climb up there with industrial Swiffers to dust the things:
After mentioning this to my wife, she brought up a hospital room she'd visited where the phones were specially designed with flush-mounted surfaces, including the keypad, that made them easy to wipe down and disinfect. So, a shout-out to you medical designers out there.
Looking around your home, office, garage or even car, what are some of the items that you find difficult or impossible to clean?
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"Who is going to clean that thing?" is a question I enjoy hearing. When you start your career with a broom, sponge or mop in your hand, the reality of maintenance stays with you. For designs in the food handling industry, NSF, www.nsf.org, has standards with details for cleaning and sanitizing. Find a can opener with a NSF certification, and you won't be putting bits of last night's chili in tonight's cranberry sauce.
Great tip. Thank you!
It is funny to think that all designers focus on building interior and industrial design and making them true to life. Now, we are thinking of who will clean up the dust at height? For companies, office windows are not cleaned up by their usual maintenance staff. They call for experts who work at heights to help with the job. Cleaning the area is not easy and only trained personnel are qualified. It won't take you too long to find experts in the field. For over 20 years the UbiQ Group team completed projects across the UK. You may visit their site for more info about how they work.
That plane-cleaning gig looks fun, actually. Also, can openers get nice and clean in the dishwasher. (If you have one, of course. If you don't have one, but could afford to, then I hear they're not only more convenient than hand washing but also better for the environment.)
I looked around my home, office, garage, and car, and found that they are all nearly
Oh, pretty much any power tool related to woodworking. It's like they-- wait a minute...YOUR "WIFE"??? Congrats, you old so and so! <3
Keyboards and mice take the cake. These items are both ubiquitous and universally dirty, yet dishwasher safe versions are treated as novelties. Ridiculous.
Most kitchen things aren't considered at all, they just expect everyone in the world to own a dishwasher.
How timely. I was just thinking about this today, while standing on the platform of New York City's renovated Lexington - 63rd St station, an attractive station that was given a total rebuild almost exactly 2 years ago as part of the 2nd Ave subway project. The structural pillars are clad in a rather beautiful stainless steel mesh … which is still beautiful everywhere except for the bottom 2 or 3 feet which are now grimy and disgusting. The grime appears to be mostly stuff that has been embedded into the mesh by the dirty water that bounce-splashes up when they power-wash the floors. How do you clean the grime out of 50,000 tiny holes in the stainless mesh? Send a guy with 10,000 pipe cleaners?
You've highlighted a major difference between designing for consumer products vs commercial products. Once you buy a consumer product, especially something at a relatively low price, the manufacturer's relationship with you is essentially over. Oh yes, you can complain about it on IG or shame them on FB, and their social media person might send you a coupon.