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Good design is invisible. It works beautifully, seamlessly, does the job without a whimper.
Bad design, on the other hand, is noticed immediately! It sticks out like a pair of brown shoes under a black tux. It is in-your-face obvious.
The PT Cruiser that I have rented for the week made me realize once again how our daily lives get complicated for no other reason than bad design.
First, the window power buttons. Everyone who gets into a PT Cruiser searches for the window buttons in vain. Why? Because the designers of PT decided it would be a really “cute” idea to place all four window controls on the center of the dashboard!
So when you approach a gate toll and when you need to roll down your window in a hurry, don’t panic. Just think about all the time and energy that went into an “innovation” that neither works nor is needed, and have some compassion.
Second, if you need to pop open your trunk lid from inside for easy loading and unloading of your grocery bags, forget about it. There is no pop-up button like you would have in 90% of all cars these days, that little and very useful button somewhere in the lower left side of the steering wheel.
You need to get down and insert your key into the trunk lock and open it manually every time you need to open your trunk. How’s THAT for convenience?
And thirdly, watch out for the key itself because the PT designers placed the PANIC button right on the key, exactly where you would be grabbing it to unlock your doors and your trunk.
The result? On various occasions throughout the day you activate your car alarm without intending to. And if that is happening inside the tight space of an underground garage, the effect is all the more embarrassing and ear-splitting of course.
As American car manufacturers are wondering why Japanese and South Korean car makers are taking over the American market they should really pay attention to all these small things that either don’t work or work with unpleasant results.
It’s time they realize that “cute” is not always “friendly.”
Perhaps by taking such “design risks and challenges” they are trying to take a road less traveled and discover some new “aesthetic ground.”
Yet they should also remember what Jerry Seinfeld said about the matter: “Sometimes the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.”