Use what you design

The tea kettle at our office is very poorly designed.

There are two things wrong with it. First, you can’t lift the tea kettle and open the spout with one hand. You have to either flip the spout cap before you lift, or lift with one hand and flip the spout cap with the other hand. In the second case, the empty cup must be on the table.

But, I can except this. When you’ve been designing tea kettles your whole life (as this tea kettle’s designer must have), you’ve got to be looking to do something different this time around. I fully accept this extra bit of tedium for the benefit of some creative liberation.

Our poorly conceived tea kettle

But here’s the one that I cannot tolerate. Notice the bit of black rubber on the top of the handle. If you look closely (click the image for a super-res version), you’ll also see the black rubber surface that lines the underside of the handle. However, on either side of the handle, it’s pure metal. The same metallic surface that winds itself around to the bottom of the kettle.

You may have experienced this before, but if not, I’ll inform y’all here first. Metal conducts heat. I learned this from….life.

If you grab the handle like a normal human being, you’re suddenly struck by the hot sensation on your fingers and palms. To the best of my knowledge, that hot sensation originates from the open flame that’s engulfed the bottom of the tea kettle for the last five minutes.

But, suppose they just didn’t have enough rubber available for production. I get it. Design with constraints. Embrace ’em. I get it. I do. In that case, the correct rubber placement should be on the sides of the handle. Not at the top and bottom. Try it yourself. Grab your tea kettle handle. Your fingers put the pressure on the side of the handle. In fact, you can pretty easily avoid making contact with the top and bottom of the handle.

This all brings me to one important reminder about building things: Try using it once before you’re through designing it.