A short-hand expression used in and around the studio to describe that one, usually small, unexpected and deceptively obvious designed feature that makes an artifact suddenly transformatively useful/helpful/up-graded. The kind of transformation that makes you look back and wonder how the heck you ever schlepped that awkward, sagging Samsonite with one arm across entire airports..cities..continents. Like..what took them so long to put wheels on luggage, anyway? I mean — I’m sure there’s a business case study on it ((if you know, please share with me..I’m curious..))
Above is just one example I came across and was prompted to mention briefly after Ian blogged about his feelings towards presentation software. This is a simple button to do the switch-a-roo between displays that is inevitably a big bump in getting set up to present from Keynote. Often enough, almost inevitably, your presentation notes screen gets piped to the audience display and you have to hunt about in display system settings to switch them. Always awkward to have people staring at your notes, or, worse — your desktop or email. Here’s a quick ejection button that toggles the displays right from within Keynote. No hunting for your System Settings, losing track of where the display mode modal dialog has gone, etc.
*Wheels on luggage.
More generally this idea of *wheels on luggage is useful to remind ourselves that things have not always been as they are — things have been different and they’ll be different again. It’s useful, to me at least, to think that we are in the Jurassic era for *something. Where are the exemplars around us that are waiting to have a set of four wheels put on to make things work a little bit better, a bit more humanely, or sanely? What is the relationship to all our “new” things today to what they will become sooner than we expect — E-waste? Something squirreled away in another bin of lost-and-forgotten things that we once thought we couldn’t live without? bits-and-bobs in a vintage shop display case?
Why do I blog this? I find it a very useful approach to design to imagine that I am making the past for some future, rather than the future itself. Artefacts that reflect ideas and inspiration but are things that someday will be quite ordinary, quotidian and unspectacular. Normalizing heroic ideas to the everyday yet exceptionally useful — such that they are impossible to imagine a world without. Like wheels on luggage.
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