Friday, November 8, 2013

If Dad Could See Me Now! Norelco, A Shaver That Is Well Designed

One of the things I harp on, complain about, is the design, or lack thereof,  of the things we use everyday. Life is stressful and complicated enough without having to deal with poorly designed products. I don't think I need to list the more explosive issues of dysfunction we have encountered lately.

I mentioned that my Dad took me to art classes when I was in grade school. One of the reasons he took me was because he was the manager of the Shick Electric Shaver Shop in downtown Portland, OR. The shop was opened 5 1/2 days a week. Saturdays from 9 to 1. Those of us who are baby boomers and older will remember them. Their biggest competitor was Remington Electric Shavers, Norelco and a few more I don't remember. Even after the classes were over, I would go with him some Saturdays to clean the place out and decorate the windows. He was a pig in the office, but a real neatnik in his shop! I know, I cleaned that too.
Cleaning My Norelco Shaver

Though Dad had an assistant, there were times when I was recruited to help clean shavers if they got behind. It wasn't a task I thought much of. I mean, who wants to clean some guys whiskers out of a  shaver? Why didn't he just do it?

A year ago, when I finally decided to shave my beard off after about 20 years, a friend gave me an electric shaver. Because I was on blood thinners for life, the doctors said either keep the beard or use an electric razor. So here was a gift and I gave it a try. I was amazed at how closely it shaved and with not a nick anywhere. Even with the beard I still had to shave my neck and bleeding was a always a problem.

Ironically, when it started to shave poorly I just figured the blades were dull and I replaced then with a spare set I was given. Looking more closely at them, I noticed they were clogged with hair. Maybe they were still good. It turns out they were.

For a non-technical person you have to give the folks at Norelco / Phillips a lot of credit for shaver design. I had it apart in no time, got the gunk out of the blades by soaking them in alcohol and with a stiff brush had it clean of whiskers and back together in no time. If only more things in life were that simple.

There seems to be a trend again to make things more complicated. And I mean EVERYTHING. Remember when Facebook was so simple to use? You just about need to be an IT person, if your older anyway, to navigate it. Apple has made their operating systems more and more complicated. I face new issues each and every day now. We don't even need to discuss Microsoft. They were never simple. Complexity was king. Tried to program your coffee maker? Remember the VCR? Even cars today are subject to driver angst. I watched the driver of a brand new Mercedes stall her car and frantically call on the phone trying to figure out what to do. My side street was completely blocked for about 5 minutes.

I think its time again for designers all of stripes to look more closely at their products. If they don't someone else will. Remember Kodak. They didn't want to develop the CCD chip they invented for cameras because it would hurt their film sales. Their are kids and young adults who have no idea of what film is. You mean the SD card? Making the complex simple will win, hopefully, every time!

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