Lateral Thinking in Design

When I was a wee monkey in elementary school, my class took a field trip to the California Science Center. I specifically recall an interactive display featuring a metal gate about 4 feet tall as one might find in any old garden or house. It was fitted with a conventional latch that was locked with a conventional padlock. The gate however, did not open conventionally. The exhibit description said the gate could be opened without breaking the lock or the hasp. And open it did by pushing down on the post where it was apparently hinged and rotating it about where it was apparently locked. Those clever bastards at the California Science Center! Aside from contemplating the virtues of lateral thinking, I thought the display was pretty fucking sweet!

Today, while perusing the Makezine blog, I came across this representation of that same kind of misdirection in design:

The concept is simple enough, but it’s executed quite cleanly and yes, it’s pretty fucking sweet!

As for the virtues of lateral thinking, there is ALWAYS more than one way to view a problem, consider an object, live a life; and I think it prudent to consider the most obvious, and at least one of the less obvious possibilities.

As for how lateral thinking relates to design, ever since that day at the California Science Center, I dreamed of a designing a house with trap doors, hidden panels, and one or two secret passageways. For now I must settle for little diddies of misdirection. Should you ever visit my dwelling place wherever it may be, I’d be wary of the unassuming. Also mind the ordered chaos.


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