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#1 Alcohol, spoons and 'design doing'
Welcome to the first edition of Design Lobster!
Thank you for subscribing. Every Friday you can expect some design inspiration from places you would never have expected. One question or provocation, one object and a quote from the world of design & beyond.
This is a work in progress and I want to build something here that people value, so any thoughts or ideas about how it can improve please get in touch.
Question: How might we design the booze out of booze?
It’s that time of year when everyone is giving something up. Alcohol being my own (semi 😬) abstinence of choice this month, I’ve been been intrigued to read about some of the companies trying to reinvent the social experience of having a drink. Most companies have framed the problem as how to make something that tastes like alcohol without actually containing any. Kin, and a few other American companies have taken a different approach. Instead of taste, their goal has been to make something that has (some of) the effects of alcohol without actually containing any. It’s more ambitious and not without controversy. It was revealed after launch that the blend contained phenibut which is central-nervous system depressant and a controlled substance in several countries around the world.
Kin say they have now updated the blend and reports suggest it does still have the relaxing effect we have come to expect from alcohol. I’m intrigued to try it. But the phenibut drama points to a flaw in the approach. If your goal is to have a chemical affect on the brain, pretty soon you’re going to loop back to lots of the same problems; dependency, addiction, withdrawal that you were trying to getting away from by avoiding alcohol.
Design takeaway: Could you frame the problem you are trying to solve in a different way? What would be the consequences?
Check out their (appropriately culty) website here
Object: Marrow spoon
I have a thing for niche Victorian tableware. 200 years ago there was unique cutlery for every dish and I miss that. Grape shears? Asparagus tongs? Mote, treffid & marrow spoons? Terrapin forks? YES.
The 19th century combination of rigid codes of social behaviour and industrial production lead to a veritable Cambrian explosion of cutlery species. Like overspecialised creatures, nearly all of them have now died out. But it’s a feast for the imagination to see how the basic plan of a spoon or fork could be adapted to the specific challenges of one vegetable or meat.
And I can’t help feeling we are comparatively impoverished to live in the time of the all-in-one disposable SPORK.
Design takeaway: What is specific about the problem you are trying to solve? How does your solution reflect that?
Go down a wikipedia hole here
Quote: “We need more design doing…”
– Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things
Preach Don. We’ve got so obsessed with “design thinking” that I sometimes think we’ve forgotten the important thing is to get the design out there. Let’s think, and then let’s also do.
Have a great weekend. 🦞