Design-for-debate

The Buttons

Nowadays buttons are completely mundane and natural objects in our environment. You find them on phones, alarm clocks, keyboards, elevators, dishwashers and of course on the computer screen. You press buttons countless times throughout your day, but hardly think of them consciously.

The little symbols of control are so omnipresent, it is difficult to imagine that buttons did not always exist. Certainly people in the stone age did not press them – taken that nipples do not count as buttons – but we don’t know exactly when we started pushing buttons and who invented them.

Apparently buttons were unknown until the early 20th Century, with the possible exception of valves on wind instruments. When small controls were needed, for example on camera shutters, they were usually styled after latches or triggers.

Recent RCA graduate Nitipak Samsen, took it upon himself to re-investigate and re-design the concept of the button altogether, moving from the button as a symbol of control, an extension of the human desire to harness the planet, to inter-control.

The Buttons’ is a range of conceptual controlling mechanisms which include:

Sharing resources: asking permission to use shared resources.
I’m watching you: restraint or temptation?
Consequences: reminding us of the fragility of the environment.
Does scale matter?: small button – big consequences or big button – small consequences?
Footprint indicator: physically feeling the consequences of an action.
Weighted waiting: users’ efficiency (time) vs. planet’s efficiency (energy).
Limited resources: constraint or discipline?

Next, we would like Nitipak Samsen to design the presidents nuclear button – curious to see what it would look like.

Your readers homework for today is, every time you press a button, to pause for a moment and ask yourself: why am I doing this and is there also another way?

Seen at: V2_ TestLab. See also: Switch Critters – can you make them switch?, Gel Remote, The powerbutton button,

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