📰 Design You Haven’t Thought About

I’m finally past the mapping project for the highway pages, and I’ve posted the theatre reviews for the last weekend. Do you know what that means, boys and girls? It means I can get back to clearing out the accumulated links for news chum (as in, “ready, set, discuss”). This collection all struck me as having to deal with design issues you might not have thought about:

  • Coffee Cup Lids. Have you ever thought about that styrene lid you get on your take-out coffee or tea? Who designed it? What is the meaning of all those symbols. It turns out that there is a new book on the design of the humble lid, and there is even more details in an Atlas Obscura post on the same subject, where they decode the lid.
  • Concrete. If you were to think about what makes our civilization possible, your mind might turn to the humble man-made rock, concrete. It allows us to build in a variety of shapes, it makes our roads and tall buildings possible. But its manufacture comes with a tremendous environmental cost, and it is one of the reasons we are at peak sand today. The manufacture of cement creates loads of greenhouse gases, and the manufacture of concrete traps water and sand in a way that can’t be easily recovered (certainly, the sand).
  • Airline Maps. Consider the humble airline route map in the back of your in-flight magazine. Have you ever thought about how it is designed? How it shows you the detail the airline wants you to see while hiding others? How it conveys messages about the brand itself. Here’s an interesting exploration of the design process behind the creation of the map.
  • DC Metro Stations. When you travel on transit, you probably don’t think about the station design. But that design can tell you a lot about the system, when it was built, and the messages and wayfaring notions the transit operator wants to convey. Just consider all the different station types in Washington DC.
  • Highways and Cities. When you think about the design of highways, what thoughts go through your head? The material the road is made out of? How much easier it will make it for you to get from point A to point B? The fact that it completes a line on a map? But do you ever think about how the design and routing of a freeway can impact a city? Building a highway can divide communities and make racial segregation worse. This isn’t new; think about the “other side of the tracks” distinction. Look at how freeways such as the Harbor divide south-central LA. But that raises the next question: Would removing a highway undo the damage? How might we build these structures so that they do not divide.
  • Batteries. Finally, here’s a questions of A, B, Cs. More properly, I should say AAA, AA, C, and D. Here’s a handy diagram of all types of batteries.

 

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