Being Curious is the First Default

…and there are days when I just want to be driven around. Idyllic and relaxed as I discover the world in a different light; get inspired and fill up my cup of design wisdom in ways that makes me feel humble. In other words (and times) this is just being curious!

To celebrate such moments, I’d like to share with you some of the interesting design stories that keeps me wondering how observation is the biggest virtue every designer must develop. Read on and enjoy.

1. Why lever based water faucets operate by lifting the handle?

Running TapThe reason became apparent in a devastating earthquake in Kobe, Japan. Till then, largely, the lever had to be pushed down, but the massive quake shook things up so badly that many tap handles got pushed down by the vibrations or by falling objects thus wasting huge amount of water. So had the tap operated by lifting the handle upwards (against gravity) this problem wouldn’t have occurred!
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Hanshin_earthquake Opens link in a new window.

2. Why is it a QWERTY keyboard?

QWERTY KeyboardYou probably know this, but if you don’t than the answer lies in the nearly defunct typewriter, which had an array of metal arms (or hammers if you can call them so) organized like an half bowl crater, each with one alphabet on it’s head that would travel and hit the ribbon to imprint it when you struck the corresponding key. The mechanics were such that the arms had a propensity of getting struck with it’s neighbour if both were in “flight”. The designer than came up with this brilliant idea of distributing the alphabets in a manner that it uniformly spread out the most used alphabets with the least used ones to reduce the chances of getting caught up while typing fast. So, in principle, he devised the keyboard to slow down typing!
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qwerty Opens link in a new window.

3. What is the origin of Left-Hand Drive?

Horse Cart with Load This one is rather interesting that it comes from the way we are oriented and how it impacted driving horse carts! Humans are largely right-handed and in the era when we were building our nations, large logs and other cargo had to be carried on horse driven carts. The driver, who had to hold the reins and a whip to guide the horses would use the left hand for the reins and the right for whipping and all other tasks – as it provided more dexterity. Also, the driver preferred sitting on the cart edge as it’s easier to get off and back. So he decided to sit on the left edge as whipping across the chest isn’t that comfortable as it’s on the other side. Now, to avoid collision with the oncoming vehicle, it’s natural that it be on the driver’s left so he can clearly see it go past.
Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_hand_drive Opens link in a new window.

Right then, that’s all for this round of curiosity. More to follow soon as much as I hope to learn from your comments, so please go ahead and share your design stories.

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