Mint’s everyday thing design Matt 02 Feb 2006

34 comments Latest by Sam

The MoMA Design Store’s best selling item? These “Hug” salt and pepper shakers made by Mint Inc. The Mint site has a lot of cool and curvy items and so does the site of Scott Henderson, a Mint partner. Pure contemporary interviewed Henderson in July 2005.

He likes designing prosaic items:

The objects I really enjoy designing are the day-to-day items everyone has in their house but never thinks about. For me, the more mundane the item is, the better. The more mundane, the more potential there is to make something totally new. It’s like a built in ingredient for high impact.

And he sees bad design as an opportunity:

There are so many companies out there that basically just don’t use design, so there’s a lot of bad stuff out there that sells very well. People don’t always care, and I’m guilty of it to. If I need a broom, I’ll go to the grocery store and get whatever’s there, I don’t shop around. But the problem is that people do this with everything, with things like DVD players. And it’s for that reason that bad design sells well.

The companies I respect are those that make a conscious effort to put well-made, well-designed products into the market. And while there has been more of these recently, there are still many more out there selling bad design. In terms of good design, it’s still a barren wasteland, but that’s what I like. Without much of a struggle, you can find so much opportunity to make things better.

Related: New York magazine’s bestseller archive profiles top sellers at places like Ambassador Luggage, Hammacher Schlemmer, and The Container Store.

34 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Ben Whitehouse 02 Feb 06

I just bought these two guys at the MoMA store over the weekend and thought to myself “I really should fill my life with beautiful, well designed objets.”

So, in a word, ditto!

Dave Ritter 02 Feb 06

Couldn’t agree more. The social vision of good design—in short, making peoples lives better—has always had a bit of a pull on my heartstrings.

Plus, you know… those little huggy guys are so cute!

Tim 02 Feb 06

I think its great the the Container Store’s best selling item is a clear plastic box.. out of all the containers they sell.

Mark 02 Feb 06

Notice: Signal vs. Noise has been put on a probationary status for one week by 3 members of our 4 member development team. If there is not a meaningful beneficial post on this site within the one week period, this blog will be removed from our RSS feeds. We are trying to get down to only the “essentials” and find that the concept of “less” has been the only real notion on this site for some time. If you have any fresh ideas, we would love to hear them. Despite our feelings about the direction of the blog, we love your products! PLEASE DON’T KICK US OFF BASECAMP!

Brent 02 Feb 06

In other words..come on. We’re bored man.

Brent 02 Feb 06

Oh wait, I kind of like this post. But STILL.

Mathew Patterson 02 Feb 06

Signal vs. Noise has been put on a probationary status for one week by 3 members of our 4 member development team.If there is not a meaningful beneficial post on this site within the one week period, this blog will be removed from our RSS feeds.

Notice: ‘Threatening’ the authors of a blog is probably not the best way to effect a change.

It just struck me as an adbsurdly serious-toned comment - if you don’t want to read, just don’t, there is no contract that requires a notice period!

Dan 02 Feb 06

Signal vs. Noise has been put on a probationary status for one week by 3 members of our 4 member development team.If there is not a meaningful beneficial post on this site within the one week period, this blog will be removed from our RSS feeds.

REMOVED FROM YOUR FEEDS!? C’mon let’s be rational!

Um… Who cares?

Mark 02 Feb 06

Sorry if my comment came across as harsh or insulting or threatening. That was never my intention. This blog has raised my expectations for what I expect from online posts and I have been a little disappointed in the content and direction of the last few posts. Overall I have learned alot from this blog and would never mean it any harm or disrespect.

Rabbit 02 Feb 06

Change is the only constant.

37S will change; as will there blog.

Perhaps with their change, you could also change. :)

Do something with all your wonderful newfound knowledge. People may follow you. Then you’ll change, and they’ll go off on their own paths.

Welcome to life. :)

Aaron Blohowiak 02 Feb 06

comments like Rabbit’s make me want to read this blog.

Dave Ferrick 03 Feb 06

When will realistic pricing become a bullet point in the good design mantra? The concept of “value” has been spit on in recent years with handy examples such as Walmart, but the times they are a’ changing. Finally the world is catching on to buy what’s hip. People no longer just have an iPod, but a variety of iPods. One of the most popular names in vacuum cleaners carries a $500+ price tag. And a salt & pepper shaker is currently fetching $25. So what’s next? Well, consumer debt will top out, people will realize it’s absolutely ludicrous to spend $25 on a salt & pepper shaker, and suddenly 10 more gigs and 20cm less space doesn’t make such a splash at Macworld.

There’s one company to watch here though: Nintendo. If they price this new console how the rumors say they will, they’re going to be riding a wave of good design + right pricing that *lots* of companies will miss.

eric 03 Feb 06

I totally agree with the above post on value. unfortunately, companies that do put out well designed products often feel the need to mark up the price way past what it’s worth. “good design” will have a tough time becoming the norm if companies continue to insist on putting a huge premium on it.

also, this is a little nit-picky, but video game consoles are not the best examples, seeing as how the manufacturers take a huge loss on the boxes. the consumer DOES get a great value on the boxes, but they just pay out the ass for the games.

Mathew Patterson 03 Feb 06

unfortunately, companies that do put out well designed products often feel the need to mark up the price way past what it’s worth.

Who decides what good design is worth? Surely it is the individual people who decide if a particular product is worth paying extra for?

Good design costs more in part because it is harder to do, and in part because it provides more value for the products users.

Rahul 03 Feb 06

Nintendo should be watched not only for value innovation but also for their new “less” ideology regarding interfaces on the Revolution and DS platforms. I’m actually surprised SVN hasn’t brought it up yet. Less buttons, less features, less costs. It’s pretty much exactly the same stuff SVN talks about all the time.

brad 03 Feb 06

This blog has raised my expectations for what I expect from online posts and I have been a little disappointed in the content and direction of the last few posts.

You should look through the archives! Every week new people look at this blog for the first time and make an assumption that it’s about some specific set of topics. But in fact the posts on SVN have always covered a wide range of issues. As it says up top, SVN is about “design, customer experience, entertainment, politics, Basecamp, products we like, small business, ourselves, and more.”

Dan Boland 03 Feb 06

Nintendo should be watched not only for value innovation but also for their new “less” ideology regarding interfaces on the Revolution and DS platforms.

They probably haven’t mentioned Nintendo because of the horrible controllers for the N64 and GameCube. While the Sony figured out how to make lots of buttons seems less daunting, Nintendo put their misshapen buttons all over the place.

Rabbit 03 Feb 06

@ Dan Boland:

I know a few thousand kids who would beg to differ.

Dan Boland 03 Feb 06

Yikes… sorry for the horrible grammar. I sound like spam. =/

eh 03 Feb 06

campfire is “simple group chat”? that’s all you can do over the course of several months? you guys must get in a lot of video gaming time.

JF 03 Feb 06

Yup, that’s all it is. Simple group chat. Just like Ta-da is simple to-do lists and Writeboard is simple collaborative writing, and Basecamp is simple project collaboration…

Email must surely suck too — it’s so damn simple.

Michele 03 Feb 06

To Mark and all the others who whine, two words; stop posting. If the topic doesn’t interest you, move on. This blog is not for you alone. Like Brad says “SVN is about “design, customer experience, entertainment, politics, Basecamp, products we like, small business, ourselves, and more.” The idea is to cover a wide range of topics. If you can’t add something to the discussion, keep your fingers away from the keyboard.

JF 03 Feb 06

Amen Michele. Thanks for the injection of reason.

eh 03 Feb 06

but email does suck. cf. spam.

eh 03 Feb 06

i’m glad richard stallman doesn’t think like you do, jason, or else gcc would only support k&r C (with none of the architecture it has to allow for the easy creation of support for new languages by translation to intermediate code), emacs would have no extensibility and would have therefore died off 10-15 years ago the way most text editors that existed 15-20 years ago did, and gdb would only let you step forward one instruction at a time, with no breakpoints or anything else (do you know what a breakpoint is? have you ever debugged code in your life?).

JF 03 Feb 06

eh, why does everyone need to solve complex problems? We’re not interested in those. We’re interested in solving simple problems — those are the problems most people have most of the time. That’s what we’re focused on and proud of it.

JF 03 Feb 06

do you know what a breakpoint is? have you ever debugged code in your life?

Nope and nope. I’m not a programmer.

Rich 03 Feb 06

Jason, you seriously don’t do any of coding on the 37signals apps? Have you ever? Do you do front end stuff anymore, or do you stay mostly on the business side of things nowadays?

JF 03 Feb 06

Rich, no, I never did coding. I’m not a programmer. I’m a designer/business guy. I still do UI, yes. I generally do the initial UI concepts and then Ryan runs with them. I keep an eye on things during the design process and jump in from time to time with suggestions, tweaks, and adjustments. I also do a lot of the copywriting inside the apps (Matt helps out with this as well).

Gus 03 Feb 06

Jason, what will your CRM tool be called and when will that be released. I am more interested in see that than instant messaging.

( My comments are in response to your comment “We are working on a CRMish tool as well, but Campfire isn’t it.” which can be found http://www.37signals.com/svn/archives2/campfire_on_deck_from_37signals.php )

Anonymous Coward 03 Feb 06

This is Friday so I ready to leave work and this is way off topic but, does anyone else get tried (and somewhat sick) at look at the light-blue gradients used all over 37signals web sites?

mm 03 Feb 06

there are plenty of hard, common problems, ones more pressing than making the perfect todo list.

spam filtering is a good example. there’s a variety of ways to approach it, including applying fairly sophisticated algorithms and computational paradigms.

other examples: secure e-commerce. data compression. optimizing programs to take advantage of platform specific architecture extensions like 3DNow!/SSE for games/image/video processing (e.g., photoshop, dvd ripping programs, backup programs), which is the only way for software to actually reap the benefits of moore’s law. firmware for new mobile devices with limited computational resources and bandwidth. things like these are the cornerstones of huge industries and market segments. you might not solve them, but they need to be dealt with by someone.

in the arena of web programming, ideas from languages with first-class continuations and lexical closures have plenty to offer in the way of innovation. there’s lots of stuff out there, but i suppose you’ll miss it if you intentionally aim as low as 37signals does.

JF 03 Feb 06

We’ll stick to solving our problems and you can stick to solving yours. We wish you luck and we hope you’ll grant us the same wish.

Sam 05 Feb 06

“secure e-commerce. data compression. optimizing programs to take advantage of platform specific architecture extensions”

Wow, this is SO the right blog to post that! (not!)

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