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#45 Birth, redesigned
...and an app for living in the moment
Welcome to Design Lobster #45, bringing you a nostalgic camera app with designs on your mental wellbeing and a birthing tool for soon-to-be mothers across the world. Don’t you just love design? 😍✏️
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Question: How might we live more in the moment?
I recently learned about an app called Dispo, which has a contrarian approach to taking photos in 2020. As shown above, it replicates on-screen the controls of a disposable film camera, complete with tiny viewfinder and a scroll wheel to move the virtual film reel forwards. Most strikingly, like a film camera, the user must wait for 24 hours before they can see the photos they have taken. A nostalgia-fest, but why go to such lengths to replicate the drawbacks of an obsolete technology?
The idea came from David Dobrik, a Slovakian Youtuber with a huge Gen Z following. At parties in LA he noticed that his friends had become obsessive about taking a perfect photo, which he felt was draining the fun and spontaneity from the process. By limiting the controls available and their ability to review pictures, Dispo makes photo-taking joyful again.
I think it’s an interesting example of a product being made objectively harder to use in order to improve (by some definitions) the overall experience. We might condemn the target audience as vain or obsessive influencers, but 2.4m people downloaded it in the 10 months following its launch, suggesting the app addresses a problem that is more widespread. With modern social media putting us under pressure to carefully curate the photos we take and share, Dispo allows you to opt out from all that for a night. Clearly for lots of people, that feels like a blessed relief.
Design takeaway: How might your design encourage its users to live more in the moment?
📸 But did David Dobrik steal the idea for Dispo from a TikToker?
Object: reBIRTH Birthing tool
This year’s James Dyson Awards highlighted outstanding student design work from across the world. The national winner from the Philippines caught my eye, with an innovative approach to making the birthing process more comfortable for women across the world. Their research highlighted two problems. The first one was that traditional obstetric beds in hospitals were uncomfortable and did not accommodate the range of birthing positions used across the world. The second was that these beds were simply unavailable in many places - with mothers sometimes having to make do with old mattresses.
The solution is an adaptable foam support and mat that gives a woman a choice of ways to give birth depending on what is more comfortable for her. It is portable and can be used on an existing obstetric bed or outside a hospital setting. Made of polyurethane, coconut coir and olefin fiber, the components of the support are designed to be cheap to manufacture and easy to replace.
I like the way this design puts the needs of the mother at the centre of the design. By taking into account the traditional birthing positions of different cultures, their design challenges assumptions of what birth should look like.
Design takeaway: What cultural assumptions could you challenge with your design?
👶 Watch a video about the project.
Quote: “If products and companies would live or die by code before, they now live or die by their product design and design literacy.”
– Peter Levine, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz
In this essay from April, Peter Levine outlined why he had invested in collaborative design tool Figma. Whereas in previous decades having a technical edge was paramount for success, he argues that now it is product design that differentiates companies. As people’s expectations of technology have improved, good design is no longer simply nice-to-have, but the first thing to consider.
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