300 essays about design, culture, and Jim Watson. According to StrengthsFinder,
Jim's number 1 strength is Ideation - a fascination with and propensity for new ideas.
Jim's observations about design and how to make them better.
ACCESSORIES FOR AN ARM SLING
Things to add to a sling to hold stuff.
THE ULTIMATE BACKGAMMON BOARD
The shape of the board matches the way the game is played.
A DECK OF CARDS WITH 6 SUITS
Enhance existing games and add new games.
Easier to use with logical layout.
HIGHWAY SIGN DESIGN
Layout and typography for safer driving. As in, saves lives.
JUST ONE PIECE
A simple anti-litter campaign.
DOG LEASH BELT
Hands-free dog leash
MUSEUM HOURS SIGN
That makes so much more sense.
QUELINES AND IMPROVED CROWD CONTROL
Observations, tips, and improvements.
CLEAR SIGNS TO THE REST AREA
They don't have to be difficult.
RESTAURANT TABLE NUMBERS
The ultimate system.
BETTER SCREEN DESIGN
User-friendlier app screens, especially Apple.
SKI TRAIL TO COLORADO
A direct route from Texas metros to the Rockies
SMARTER SPELLING OF COMMON WORDS
Let's just spell the way we talk.
A smarter hierarchy of pertinent information.
Accessible pockets while sitting or standing.
A BETTER BAG FOR WHICHWICH
And, while we're at it - better branding and signage.
AIRPORT SIGN: TO SHOW PARKING OPTIONS FOR DRIVERS
APP LAYOUT & DESIGN
ARROWS ON SIGNS: COLOR CODED TO ENHANCE DIRECTION
Arrows convey direction - colors could help.
BAGS AT CHECKOUT RACK
BIG CHIEF TABLET COVER
The cover would make a great case flap for an iPad or other tablet. Included - the Big Chief notepaper app:
BOOK TITLE TO IMPRESS
BOOK SHELVES THAT ARE HIDDEN WITHIN THE BOOKS
BRIEFCASE WITH RETRACTABLE SHOULDER STRAP
It is common to use a shoulder strapped bag, but there are many instances when the case is carried like a briefcase. A case whose strap retracted into the case would simplify use and be more convenient and stylish. 2006
CALENDAR THAT MAKES MORE SENSE
CALL BUSINESS PEOPLE AT CONSIDERATE TIMES
Avoid making an appointment or placing a business phone call before lunch on Monday or after lunch on Friday. Most people just don't want to deal with you and your issues during those times:
• Monday morning is set aside for changing the rhythms from weekend to the workplace.
• Friday afternoon is the reverse transition time - changing mentality from work to play.
• Too early in the morning (before 9a) or too late in the afternoon (after 4p) can often be inconvenient and unappreciated.
CAR BANDS AND BAGHOOK
After many years of having things roll around in the car and having to search under the seat for the rolled items, I sought a solution. I needed a method to secure bags, papers, and books. I already had a flat bed in the back of the car (I had removed the back seat and built the bed to transport two dogs and building materials). The area right by the rear door was easy to access and convenient to the drivers door. I laid items there on the bed, but they would slide around on the carpeted surface.
The problem of having items slide around was solved in by installing bungee cords. I put these at an angle - to provide convenient access and to allow the holes in the bed to be along the perimeter rather than out in the middle. I used a 45 degree angle since that matches the angled walls in the house and the car was loaded or unloaded while in the house (in the garage - that is in the house). I drilled holes, threaded the bungee cords through and knotted them underneath. Since they're at an angle, they are of varying lengths and tension.
The bungee cords worked great for flat things - papers, books, most packages; but not so great for shopping bags and grocery bags (most often I use a canvas bag that I keep in the car). So, I installed a plastic hook right above the bungee cords. The hook has a an opening large enough to make it easy to hang bag handles in it and it is attached with a short length of bungee cord to provide some give. I attached the hook to the handle that would normally be above the rear passenger seat. The hook hangs down low enough to be easily accessible and low enough that the bags rest on the flat bed but are held upright by the hook. Because the hook and the bags hang right behind the driver's seat, they do not interfere with the view in the rear view mirror. Now, its very easy to hang grocery and shopping bags on the hook right inside the door. Problem solved - bags stay upright, in place, and in a convenient location. 2001
CATALOG OF COURSES REDESIGNED
CHECK REGISTERS THAT ARE EASIER TO USE
For decades I had accepted the standard issue register and mounted it in the checkbook cover just like we're supposed to do. Then, Eureka, I realized I didn't have to do that. I didn't have to use the register provided with the box of checks. There would be no blemish on my Permanent Record if I replaced it with one of my own creation.
I determined the columns I would need - check number, date, who the check was to, the amount, and the balance. I spaced them to be appropriate for the size of my handwriting (the previous spaces for dollar amounts were a bit too small). The lines of entries are separated by thicker bands. These allow room for writing yet show a distinct division between the lines. I made them grey so they wouldn't overpower the page. The column for putting a check mark from the monthly statement was replaced it with a column of circles. These provide a symmetrical distinction between the columns and make it easier to fill in to show checks in the statement. I added the decimal points for each entry line to help guide the location of the dollar amounts and help to order and neatify the page. The Balance heading is set in bold to denote a hierarchy of importance. Designed: April, 2006
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS FOR A DOG
Sew a battery-powered string of lights into a pet sweater - moving Christmas decorations. 1996
CLOSET UNIT THAT ROLLS
COFFEE CUP INSERT
Back when I was a regular customer at Starbucks, I usually ordered the same drink every time. I wanted to simplify the process for me and for the staff. I observed the process of ordering from the employee's points of view and saw that it was pretty much a formula - same procedure every time. The process dealt with two Starbucks people: the first rang up the order and marked the cup to give to the second, the barista, the one making the drink. I prepped the answers to their questions and the specs for the drink I was ordering. The design above was printed on an insert and slid inside a travel cup. The all-cap grey headings and icons denote which person reads which part. To order, I just handed the cashier the cup when it was my turn to order. 2000s
COLOR LIGHT MACHINE TO TEACH COLOR
COMPUTER SCREEN LAYOUT & DESIGN
CONVERTING AIRPORT PAY PHONES TO CHARGING STATIONS
If you've flown much at all, you have likely searched an airport waiting lounge for an outlet to plug in your charger. Some new airports and remodeled lounges are installing more outlets. At Newark airport there are a few charging stations, but each one only had 4 outlets and each was occupied. Then I noticed the ring of pay phones - there were 4 or 5 of these kiosks in this lounge. I walked around several times to check - never was a single phone ever in use. Not one. Of course not. People were standing nearby using their cellphones.
So, it seems quite easy to replace the phone banks with a similar circular structure that contains banks of outlets above a worksurface. The electrical power is already there which, I assume is one of the main deterrents to adding more outlets in an airport lounge. No waiting area or floor space would be lost as the new structure would not be any larger than the existing one.
Each class project included a handout with an explanation of the project, the purpose, objectives to meet, specs (specifications) to meet, grading criteria, and resources. I designed the page with clear communication and a hierarchy of info.
Lecture slide format
Instead of one image or line of text per slide, I grouped elements together on one page. Students are used to perusing, scanning, and pickin' & choosin'. This web-style format allows students to take notes at their own pace.
Influences: web layout, shorter attention span, varying learning styles.
The slide format was set reversed so that the content would stand out in a darkened room.
Lists: Each item was shown highlighted as the last item on the list. This kept the previous items on screen after introduced and discussed.
CRUISE SHIP WEDGE SHAPE
CUP HOLDER & SHELF IN THE GROJ
CUP HOLDERS ON VACUUM CLEANERS
More men might help with household chores if they could keep their beer handy. The holder should be the kind that is used on boats - that swivel in all directions so the beer won't spill. 2006
DESIGN PAPER FOR SKETCHING AND WRITING
I had a good time designing the round backgammon board (see its own story) and was seeking other innovations. While sketching, I would make notes but ran into some issues:
1. Sketch paper had no lines to facilitate writing.
2. Lined writing paper wasn't great for sketching - the lines became subconscious design elements.
3. Graph paper had lines that were too dark and intrusive.
4. I wanted to keep archival records (having applied for a patent and learned the value of documentation) so I wanted this new paper to be hole-punched so it could go in a binder.
5. I wanted paper bigger than standard letter size, 8.5" by 11" or legal size, 8.5" by 14".
Solution concept: July 7, 1977
• Sketch paper - just drawing
• Note paper - just words
• Design Paper - both drawing and words
A paper that had light blue lines as guides for both sketching and writing and in either landscape or portrait orientation, grid lines of .25 inch for easy measuring and scaling, with holes for a binder, a good working size - 16.5" by 14", and folded so the archiving filing dimension is standard legal size. The paper would be for sketching and notes, not for preparing comps or camera-ready copy.
In October 1977, I explored numerous detail options: the dimension of the paper, the spacing of the grid lines, corner shapes - rounded or square, border or bleed, weight and texture of the paper, ink color, had a batch printed and used them for quite a while - probably until the computer made archiving a different and easier matter.
Slogan Design Paper - because to design you need both words and sketches.
Could the paper be marketed? I made notes, but never pursued selling them. I considered binding a stack of sheets into a packet, with an explanatory cover sheet, and shrink-wrapped. Since 1977, I have seen similar attempts at solving the issues stated above. Many are quite satisfactory.
DISNEY VERY MAGIC PRINCESS IMPROVEMENTS
• New names for both parks at the Disneyland Resort
• Rename two hotels in the Walt Disney World Resort
• Remove Disney from hotel names
• Improve the Resort experience without Annual Passes
• WDW master plan layout
• FastMap in the parks
• Disney Resort in New York City
DIRECTORY LISTINGS THAT ARE EASIER TO FOLLOW
We read by taking a picture of a group of words - not letter by letter. When scanning a phone book or any directory, we find the name and then have to scan to the right a ways to get to the phone number. There is no advantage to setting the info with justified margins. We are not reading a block of copy like prose, we are reading only one line of info. To aid this horizontal eye movement, a line of dots has been added to help us stay on the proper line of info.
In the example above right, the numbers are aligned to the immediate left of the names. One scans down the column to the desired name and then sees the number right next to it - no having to move along the line. As shown below, this method saves enough space to allow more letterspacing for clarity and easier reading, to allow setting the phone numbers in bold, and to allow a slightly narrower column width. Conceived: mid-1990s. Designed: May, 2003.
Below top: 4 columns of existing directory page. Below bottom: 4 columns of proposed directory page.
DOG FOOD CUTTER
Normally I feed dry dog food because I can leave it out and the dogs free feed - they eat whenever they choose. However, they have been put on a prescription diet requiring me to feed them canned dog food (they love it.) I plopped the food out of the can and chopped it into bite-size pieces with a spoon or the edge of the can. But, that got messy. Later, while cleaning out kitchen cabinets, I noticed the apple slicer.
This gadget worked great - I slid it down the cylinder of food and it cut it onto wedges. But I still had to cut those wedges in half. That required using the can again. So, I bought this food chopper and experimented with two different sizes of grid openings. I thought that if the pieces were skinny enough, my dog would eat them without my having to cut the sections in half. March 2010
• There is no need to touch the food.
• It is cut into convenient bite-size pieces.
• The dog thinks its eating a plate of delectable french fries.
DOG PARK IMPROVEMENTS
DOG POOP DETERRENT SIGN
DON'T TEXT & DRIVE - A POSITIVE MESSAGE
DOORKNOB LEVER ADAPTERS
Lever handles are more convenient, more universal, and easier to use than round knobs. Much new construction specifies lever handles. But, what about older houses with round knobs? Instead of replacing each, there could be a lever that stretches and slips over the round knob, making it a lever knob. It would need to be adjustable or able to be tightened to keep it secure on the knob. Concept: 1995. Below are some options, available since 2015:
FASHION: CUSTOM SHIRTS & PANTS 1975
FITNESS AND JOGGING TAPE
Strong beat and rhythm to motivate endurance running (I now do this with an iPod). 1980s
FLAG-WAVING HAT THAT IS HANDS-FREE
You can now clap, hold a drink, and still wave that flag at a parade or rally.
For a birthday gift, I had gotten a 'Dancin' Coke Can' - you know, one of those gift gimmicks that people chuckle over for about a minute and a half and then its just junk. It had a battery-powered mechanism inside that made the vinyl can wiggle. Being inquisitive (and the fact that it was now junk), I took the can apart to see how it worked. The mechanism created a simple back and forth motion. I wondered what other tasks this motion could do. From one direction, it looked like a waving motion. I thought what needed an automatic waving motion. When do we wave? Where do we wave? And why would it need to be automatic.
I had attended the 1989 Edmond Fourth of July parade a few weeks earlier and being dismayed that the Lions Club was passing out flags that were stamped 'Made in China'. For America's most patriotic day - flags from Communist China. How absurd and embarrassing. Anyway, I was trying to wave the flag and, at the same time, clap when the band went by. I couldn't do it. My hands were full. Eureka! An automatic flag waving hat. Stick the mechanism in a hat to wave a flag over someone's head and allow the hands to clap unencumbered.
Now, to get to work. I considered several types of hats but the mechanism needed to be secured inside and it was sorta bulky. I saw a plastic hard hat - great, that would work. I bolted the mechanism inside and cut a hole for the flag to stick out. I even used one of the original 'Made in China' flags. Oh, did I mention that the 'Dancin' Coke Can' was sound activated - it would sway in response to music. Perfect. The flag would wave only when the band went by or when the wearer was clapping (or screaming).
I never pursued manufacturing and marketing. Not sure why not. There are other possibilities - flag banners of university mascots to wear at football games or homecoming parades; there are mascot hats (Arkansas Razorback, Green Bay Cheesehead) and hats that hold beer cans, fans, and lights. Flags with images of donkeys and elephants for use at a political convention. The flag waving hat could have been a big hit, but it was just a fun project.
FURNITURE: SOFT DINING TABLE, BED, SQUOUND TABLES, MORE
GUIDE TO WHAT LAYERS TO WEAR
While remodeling a house in Edmond, OK, Jim implemented numerous innovations. 1995-2000
• Mailbox hidden behind garage panel door to minimize clutter and tackiness of store-bought mailboxes
• Clock face of kitsch items; sink with no visible pipes underneath to minimize pipe chaos
• Wheeled closet unit
• Lights on the closet and bathroom wall (rather than on the ceiling) to light the contents and the face rather than lighting the top of the shelves or the top of the head.
• Headboard lite switch
• Lamps in headboard
GROJ SALE SIGNAGE
GUIDEMAP TO THE AMERICAN FINANCE MUSEUM
HORN HONK = NO TIP
HOTEL HOUSEKEEPING CART
A cart that is narrow to fit into rooms, unobtrusive while in hallway, decorated to match hotel decor, and tall to hold more. 1995
HOTELS IN LAS VEGAS: SKETCHES
Improvements including double deck drives - one for arrivals, one for taxi & valet pickup (as Mandalay Bay did later) and sidewalks over the entrance drives (Aladdin) to separate pedestrians and vehicles. 1996
ICE CHEST IN A WASHING MACHINE
It may be weird, but it holds lots of ice and drinks, and cleanup is easy - the ice melts when you run a wash cycle. It is fun to tell guests to go get their drinks out of the washing machine. Open House at 424 in 2000.
Febuary 3 2017: Live with Kelly did a segment on snacks for the Super Bowl. Kelly Ripa: "If you don't have a big enough cooler, you can use your washer - fill it with ice - are you kidding me? you can put all your favorite beverages in here. This is my favorite thing. Is that a great idea or what? That's a great idea. I'm pretty sure we are geniuses." Maybe, but 16 years after Jim.
THE IDEA KIT: HOW TO BE A BETTER CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVER
What do we do with old iPods and how can we sneak alcohol into stadiums and arenas that don't sell beer or allow it to be brought in? Put the two together. I removed all the inner hardware from an old iPod, sealed the holes (except for the earbud input which I use as the opening to the flask) and ended up with a hard-to-detect flask that holds about a jigger (oops, sorry, I mean the j-word).
iFlask idea: March 2009. Several years later, I noticed products on Kickstarter (below left) and Fancy (right) for flasks made from iPhones:
I HEART BUMPER STICKERS
INTERIOR DESIGN OF A NYC APARTMENT
INTERIOR DESIGN OF A SMALL HOUSE
IGRIP: IPAD SUPPORT
JUSTONEPIECE, AN ANTI-LITTER CAMPAIGN
JURY SUMMONS AND MAP
Just to inspire contagious laughter and better health. 1980s
LAUNDRY ROOM SIGNS
The condo in New York has a laundry room to service all the residents. It can sometimes get a bit busy, even thought there are quite a few machines. Some rude people leave their clothes in the machine long after the cycle has completed. Maybe they got caught up in another task, maybe they just forgot they were doing laundry, or maybe they're just inconsiderate. Who knows. But it can be frustrating. Once, upon entering the laundry room, I noticed a sign - great. Maybe it will encourage people to not leave their clothes in the machine. Nope. It said not to remove clothes from a machine.
The sign is a piece of graphic design - intended to communicate a specific message to a specific group of people to achieve a specific purpose. Therefore, like any piece of graphic design, it can be made better. Here's how:
• The concept of the message - people apparently were touching other's clothes when they had been left in the machine too long. This is a busy laundry room. Even though there are 10 washing machines and 8 dryers, there are times when people are waiting. It is just rude and inconsiderate to not promptly remove clothes. This sign, however doesn't address that, it says the opposite - leave those clothes alone.
• The tone of the message is too harsh and demanding. There is no explanation or respect shown to the reader.
• The signs are posted above each machine and the text is red. There is no need for the word 'Attention'. In all caps.
• The building has tight security - visitors have to check in with the concierge in the front lobby. There is no need for the sign to state, 'Residents of Cove Club Condo' (again, in all caps). Who else would be doing laundry but a resident or a resident's employee?
• 'from machines that do not belong to you' - I didn't realize these machines belonged to me. Heck, I'll just move one of my washers and one of my dryers up to my apartment and avoid this whole sign issue.
• Cheesy and unnecessary clip art.
• Poor line breaks. 'articles of clothing' is a phrase that should not be disrupted.
Graphic design should respect the intelligence and dignity of the user/reader/viewer - the audience. I rewrote and redesigned the sign to better communicate both messages and to do so in a more considerate manner. As a sign-off to increase credibility and familiarity, I included a logo for the Cove Club condominium that I designed for an earlier project. The building manager liked the new sign but asked for a version with a Spanish translation. Huh? In Spanish? Then I realized there were nannies and apartment caretakers from many countries. I took the sign copy to a Spanish teacher at OSU in Stillwater and had him translate the sign. I explored different layouts - English & Spanish stacked and side-by-side. I also changed the font to a bold sans serif to be more demonstrative and clear.
The new signs were posted in the laundry room in early March, 2010.
To my surprise and delight - the signs were larger than what I submitted, 20" x 16", and mounted on a stiff backing.
LAUNDRY TABLE ARRANGEMENT
Before: For over a year, I tolerated the arrangement of the folding table in the condo laundry room that formed a barrier between the washers (out of view in the foreground of the pictures above) and the dryers. I, like everyone else, just stepped around the awkward placement of the table.
After: In August, 2005, I moved the table to open up access to the dryers. Sometimes, when I rearrange furniture in someone else's place (like in the elevator lobby of this same building), it is put back when I see the room the next time. But this time, when I went back to do laundry a week later, not only was the table still where I moved it, but there was a man in a wheelchair who commented how much easier it was for him to now get to the dryers.
Of course, the table was moved back. Somebody, maybe one of the porters, didn't realize that it was a more efficient and convenient arrangement and just put it back the way he was conditioned to seeing it. But, after the management accepted the new signs (above) I tried again and presented the suggestion to the condo board. They agreed and the tables were rearranged as recommended above. They have remained in the new configuration ever since.
LINCOLN CENTER REARRANGEMENT OF TABLES
I LOVE TEXAS MARK
LUCKY GRAPE: A DESIGN CONSULTING FIRM
MASK RACK IN CAR
MACRAP: NEWORD FOR MISUSE OF THE COMPUTER
MEADOWS MUSEUM: A BETTER LAYOUT
METROCARD BUILDING KIT
A variety of notes, sketches, and proposals of additional design projects.
MUSEUM HOURS CHART
NEUROBICS: A NEWORD FOR LIVING MORE OPENLY
NEW YORK CITY DESIGN IDEAS
OKLAHOMA NATIONAL MEMORIAL: A CRITIQUE
MEMORIALOKLAHOMA: DESIGN SUBMISSION
PARADE IDEAS FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
PARKING SIGNS ON CAMPUS
PHONE PHORM TO FACILITATE BUSINESS PHONE CALLS
In the late 1970s I was conducting business concerning the production and marketing of the round backgammon board. Much of the work was done by phone - calls to vendors, manufacturers, designers, and toy companies. Conceived: winter 1978. Sketched/designed, Cleveland: April 1978; Dallas: August 1978. (I doubt the need is the same today with the proliferation of email and texting.)
Advantages phone call over letters: Can communicate better with intonation, voice inflections, pauses, etc; can get immediate replies and reactions; and more personal.
Disadvantages of phone calls: No written record for filing and no organization of thoughts and content of call.
Solution: A telephone form that is a guide for organizing what to say and a permanent record for filing and reference. Available in 8.5x11 & 8.5x14.
Form needs: Like a memo form but with lines for handwriting and guides for questions & answers. Cover sheet explains why we've needed a Phone Phorm.
• Who called
• Questions to ask - answers
• Points to make
• Follow-up actions
PILL STORAGE SYSTEM
A system that organizes and simplifies which pills to take at which time of the day - better than just conveying what day to take. I rearranged the daily boxes in the holder tray so that their position communicated visual clues for the status of the pills - taken already or not yet taken. When the tray is positioned on the shelf, the sightline shows the full box with the label facing dead-on to the viewer, the half full position moves the label away at an angle, and the empty position places the label in a tough to see horizontal position.
Concept: Visual reminders of pills taken that day conveyed by the boxes sitting within the base to convey a different status of the contents. Examples below:
1. Monday morning: All boxes full, labels facing user.
2. Friday morning: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday-Sunday boxes full.
3. Friday afternoon: Mon-Thurs boxes empty, Friday morning pills taken - box rotated halfway up to show half empty.
4. Saturday morning: Friday box empty, box rotated up all the way, label away from user.
5. Sunday night: All boxes empty.
PILL STORAGE JARS
• Disgust at fitting round bottles in square cabinet.
• Depth of cabinet prevents seeing all bottles at once.
• Clutter of variety of sizes, typography, distracting info.
• Clear RX by Adler & Glaser.
• Prescription packs.
• Amassing more prescriptions.
• Visual distinctions, color-coding, placement on bottle
• Minimal footprint on shelf space.
• Minimal info - time of day, dosage, med name.
• Consistent orderly visual system.
• See appropriate info at a glance.
• Square boxes/bottles - solves frustration with inefficient round bottles in cabinet.
• Art exhibit - no need to hide them, see them all at once, see at a glance which are low.
• Plastic box label design, color-coded bands, text: centered, FLRR, U&lc. Spice jars: centered, all caps, bold.
• Color-coded bands - primary focus for refill info.
• A consistent and efficient system of containers, labels, colors, and text that help make refilling weekly pill planners easier and quicker.
• Linear left to right row, instead of top to bottom, with pill capsule shape.
• Color-coding by dosage time on thick bands at bottom of square plastic boxes.
• Thick bands at top to better see when running out of pills.
• Thin bands at top.
Glass spice jars with color-coded bands and name printed on cap.
Left - Lid codes: Morning only. Misc stuff. Morning & Evening. Bedtime. Right: Lined up on the kitchen counter.
The jars of items looked so good, I set them up, all visible, in a row on the kitchen counter, as an art installation. Worried that the window light might affect the medicine, I moved them to a ledge in the darker Laundry Room (I might explore using amber or tinted glass - I just need to see how many pills are left, not the color of the pills.) I filled the extra jars with stuff for exhibit - Lego pieces, Okie red dirt, small white nails, gold chain, and screws.
Concept: a sphere aquarium that holds a plant in the top opening and an aquarium in the globe. The plant roots grow down into the aquarium where the fish nibble on them for food and trim them from filling the aquarium.
Date: While in college, room 4 of the Sigma Chi house, 1972.
In 2017, 45 years later, I saw this product with the exact same concept - the Water Garden - a self-cleaning fish tank that grows sprouts and herbs. In this aquaponics ecosystem, the fish feed the plants and plants clean the water - no water changes required. This closed-loop ecosystem is powered by aquaponics - the combination of aquaculture (or fish farming), with hydroponics (or growing plants in nutrient-rich water). The self-cleaning cycle:
• The fish produce nutrient-rich waste.
• In regular aquariums the waste becomes harmful to fish. In this Water Garden, the plants continually take up these nutrients as food.
• The clean filtered water drops back down to your fish, and the cycle continues.
Walking around New York City, I noticed that there are these posts all over the city - usually in pairs. I was baffled as to their purpose until I saw this guy set his round CD player on top of one, and, Eureka, I realized what they were for - they are CD holders. For those urban audiophiles who need to rest and want to set their player down, the city has graciously provided these CD Columns. I assume that people were setting their CD players on the top of fire hydrants, so they mounted the CD Columns near the hydrants and in pairs to encourage socializing and sharing.
CD Columns are a nice gesture from the city, but now that the CD player is becoming obsolete, there is less need for so many CD Columns around the city. To keep up with consumer and cultural changes, the city should offer columns for the iPod listener. The considerate gesture will then have a new life catering to the new generation of audio technology.
It would be expensive to replace the hundreds of CD Columns in the city, so I designed an adapter that just fits over the existing CD Columns and - presto - they are now Pod Posts. All sizes of iPods can fit in the slot. Because the iPod has a smaller footprint than a CD player, there is even room on the new Pod Post for a cup holder. There are also drain holes so rain water will not collect in the recessed slots. I am eager to see how the city responds to the PodPost when I present it to them later this fall. I think they will be stunned.
Inspiration: June 2006. Design and development: July 2006.
POSTAL SERVICE: HOW TO GENERATE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
The Postal Service has one of the largest fleets of vehicles in the world, numerous buildings, and thousands of mailboxes around the country. That is a huge saturation of potential billboards. If they would market their trucks, buildings, and mailboxes as promotion media, they could get out of debt, turn a profit, and lower the price of postage to better compete with email.
Just as there are ads on the sides of buses, there can be ads on the trucks, either complete wraps or framed placards (there could be smaller USPS branding on the trucks). There could be individual ads or a company could sponsor all the trucks in a zip code area. The ads can be easily tailored for specific markets, based on zip code demographic data. Campaigns could also be for movies, television shows, or special events and concerts. Such campaigns could include the street corner boxes or those could be purchased separately. Example: the entire box could be painted red with the Coke logo and bottle shape on the sides. Below is an example of a vinyl wrapped box with a Princess posting a letter.
Sidebar: That reminds me of the time I was playing Bingo in the basement of the old First Baptist Church and I only needed B1 to win the evening's big jackpot - a dinner for two with unlimited cheese rolls at Cracker Barrel. So, I yelled out to the ball caller at the front of the room, under the picture of Jesus with the lambs, "Oh, B1, you're my only hope."
The huge obstacle
The US Postal Service is overseen by the US Congress, yep, that do-nothing group of immature bickering egos. The above idea may be too logical and productive for the Congress to understand and implement. Oh well, it's still a good idea.
The United States Postal Service is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress; Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general. The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters.
Sidenote: If the Post Office is ever to make a profit, it absolutely must be removed from under the control of the US Congress.
A few USPS figures
160 billion pieces of mail processed
40 percent of the world's mail volume handled by the US Postal Service
31,272 - number of Postal Service-managed retail offices
260,000 - number of vehicles - one of the largest civilian fleets in the world
1.3 billion - number of miles driven each year by letter carriers and truck drivers
0 - tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service
POTHOLES: HOW TO FIX THEM AND SAVE MONEY
1. Have you ever noticed all the dark round spots on the pavement? Those are the hardened remnants of chewing gum that have been spat upon the ground. Littering sidewalks and, occasionally gumming up the bottom of someone's shoes.
2. On many roads in the USA, there are numerous potholes waiting to be filled. They are annoying, jarring, and destructive to cars. City and state transportation budgets are stretched thin - there just is not enough money and time to fill in all the potholes.
Simple solution: Every gum chewer should not toss their used wad (of gum) into the trash, but spit, drop, or carefully place the gum into a pothole. There is certainly one close to where the chewer is when finished with the gum. Soon after spitting it into the pothole, the gum hardens and, soon, with public participation, the pothole will be filled with the durable dried gum. The photos above are an example of how Jim has made efforts to improve the driving experience in New York City. Inspiration date: 2008
The sidewalks will be cleaner, potholes will be filled, and not a penny of tax dollars will be spent. Drivers will be happy, taxpayers will be happy, and gum chewers will have a new target game to play. So, please help spread the word: Gum in the hole.
Formula: Gum forming hard dark blots + potholes needing to be filled = a perfect match.
1. Any individual who chews gum can participate.
2. Schools can hold contests - Chew-Offs, Gumholes. Each class could adopt a hole to fill during the semester.
3. Organizations, fraternities, social groups can adopt a section of roadway and aim for a complete filling.
PULL OVER & TEXT/TALK CAMPAIGN AND BUMPER STICKER
PUSH PULL STICKERS FOR DOORS
RECYCLING BIN SYMBOLS
I have an Apple TV remote and a Cox cable remote. I'm fine with the functionality, except that it's completely symmetrical. I've grabbed it backward in the dark and pressed the MENU button rather than pause. Each has a symmetrical shape and layout making it easy to pick up the wrong way. This required looking at the buttons to determine orientation. To make the remote better, I explored bridht red and green decals at each end (not large enough and didn't help much in a dimly lit room), arrows along the side, and a triangle affixed to the base (too cumbersome).
Mitch, during a brainstorm session over coffee, suggested a raised 'button' on the back/bottom. I had some at home, but all were too small or shallow to be of much help, except for a bumper used where a door knob hits a wall. Tested that one and it was a success: it was easy to hold, visually clear which end was up, and the orientation could be felt in the dark. It was a bit too big, so I ordered a different door stop and affixed one of those. Works great.
ROW DESIGNATIONS FOR THEATER SEATING
SALSA RANCH DRESSING
Soon after ranch dressing was introduced I mixed it with an equal part of Tex-Mex salsa - delicious. 1980s
SELF PHOTO MORPHS
Send in photo with what changes you want (less fat, darker hair, more muscles) & photo is manipulated to reflect that and returned in variety of sizes (frameable, wallet) for motivation and goalspirations. 1994
SCIENCE MUSEUM NAME AND LAYOUT
SENSORY INPUT MACHINE
Creative people rely on perceptions in their brain as resources for creative problem solving. These perceptions come from one's imagination creating new stored images from actual images previously experienced. Actual images are recorded from numerous sources, including travel, television, magazines, and movies. If the variety of experiences increases - the creative source file is increased. This can be an expensive and time consuming process and limited by one's environment and ability to travel and purchase media.
Can this period of experiencing images be condensed in time and broadened in scope? Could images of artwork, architecture, graphics, interiors, products, and environments be compiled and shown to one at a high rate of speed - long enough for the image to register within the subconscious? Like programming a computer, can a machine help program a viewer? Can the brain perceive 2-D images from a machine as if actually experienced? Will the images register as experiential memory? How fast can the brain process an image? Can the viewer control the speed of projections? Can the images be organized by keywords? 1980s
SHIRT ARMHOLE MARKINGS
To put on a plain teeshirt, I had to guess which arm to put in which hole or I had to find the label on the collar.
Simple solution: I marked an L or R with a permanent marker on the side seam at the base of the shirt. The fabric is thick enough at that seam that there is no bleed-through of the ink. Now, as I open up the bottom I notice the R or L - it's easier to put the correct arm in the correct arm hole.
Another option: mark the L or R on the label along the side seam. 2018/19
Update: On dark shirts, the black marks didn't show up well and the marks needed to be more obviously visible. Solution: I applied iron-on tabs of color. After test-wearing, I put the R L letters on the label - now there is a color code and a text code.
SHOE CLAMPS INSTEAD OF TYING LACES
SIDEWALK CONDUITS FOR UTILITIES
SIGMA CHI IMPROVEMENTS AND DESIGN PROJECTS
• Round-Up facade
• Round Up parade float
• Room 5 renovation
• Graphic projects
SIGN FOR NEW PARKING AT OKC AIRPORT
In 2005, the airport in Oklahoma City, Will Rogers World Airport (one of the few airports named after someone who died in a plane crash) needed a way to communicate to drivers how to get to the newest parking lot. Funnel Design Group was the airport design firm. I consulted as a team member to work on this project to improve the environmental graphics and wayfinding at the airport.
We explored the entire system of environmental graphics - signage, labels, wayfinding, placement, size, colors - from the exit off of the freeway, the roadways towards the terminal and parking, and the entrances to the lots and the terminal. We explored user needs - the primary target market would be rushed, ignorant of the airport layout, and possibly a bit stressed. The new signs would need to provide assurance, guidance, and comfort. Details of exits, specific sizes and relative scale were not important. Just show the user how to get to the parking options - that's all the motorist is concerned about.
The map sign, lot signs, and other wayfinding signs were submitted to the director of the airport. Some were accepted and implemented, other proposals may wait for implementation until the new garage is finished. The map wayfinding sign was built and installed.
Concept: Jim Watson; Design: Jim Watson and Sean Cobb; Production: Sean Cobb; Fabrication: Airport staff
Designed: September 18, 2005; Sign installed: late fall, 2005
A map-like plan of the parking options at the airport; color-coded and clearly marked with type and labels.
1. Get attention of motorist - large sign, bright colors, recognizable type and symbols
2. Communicate quickly - use standard parking symbol to convey that this is about parking and black arrow to show 'You are here' and direction of travel
3. Show that there are several options for parking - lots, garage, and hourly
4. Guide the user accurately - show roadways, direction of travel, and lot entrances
5. Easy to read and understand - high contrast, sans serif type, bright colors, minimum of detail and clutter
6. Relate to existing system of color-coded signs in use at the airport - red for parking, blue for terminal
7. Easy to build and maintain - use existing standards and signboards and airport construction staff
Below left: Comp rendering of sign superimposed on site. Below right: Photos of finished installed sign.
SIX FLAGS: RIDE AND LAYOUT SKETCHES
SOFA MODULAR UNITS
SPORTS SCORES ON TELEVISION
STAGE SET DESIGN & HARDWARE
STATUE OF LIBERTY VISITOR CENTER
STOP SIGNS MADE BETTER
Go on red after stop - we waste much time and gas idling/sitting at a red light while no one else is at the intersection. Maybe we should just go - like at a stop sign. Yield to traffic with the green light, then, if clear, go ahead and cross the intersection (I came up with this notion long before people had cell phones in their cars and became less attentive drivers); Change all stop signs to Yield: a complete stop is often unnecessary, wasting gas, car maintenance, and time. 1978
STREETS & INTERSECTIONS & URBAN DESIGN
SUBWAY CARS WITH THEMED INTERIORS
To make a positive impact on the riders' experience; fun car interiors might provide a conversation starter, help remind riders that life is not to be taken too seriously, and help to brighten the outlook for urban commuters. There could even be product tie-ins to pay for the remodelation and provide extra income. 2005. Some options:
• Sports: Yankees, Mets, Giants, US Open, etc.
• Art Deco: rich details, pastel colors
• Manhattan kitsch souvenir touristy stuff
• Disco: music, mirror ball, 80s colors
• Jungle: foliage print walls; leopard, tiger prints, jungle sounds
• English library: Hunter green walls, walnut veneer, faux leather seats
• French Rococo drawing room - might be fun to see urban hip-hop fashions in such a room
• Space: Alien and Star Wars/Star Trek style materials and appliances
SUDOKU GAME IMPROVEMENTS
I have been addicted to Sudoku since the winter of 2005. In July of 2006, I was at FAO Schwarz with friends in New York City and saw this plastic version. I bought it to try it out. It worked okay - one could set it up with the puzzles from the daily newspaper or Sudoku books. There were some problems, however:
• The numbers on the pieces were hard to see. On one side of each piece, the numbers were raised, making it quite easy to darken them with a felt tip pen; making them easier to read.
• The back of each piece had a slight ridge to help it stay firmly in place in a slot in the gameboard, but that ridge made it tough to remove the pieces. I filed off the ridges on the backs of all the pieces. That allowed me to turn the game over when I was done and all the pieces fell easily into the clear plastic top of the game.
• The notation of the 3x3 grids was created by a slightly larger width in the black plastic grid - I sanded those to lighten their color and create a greater contrast.
• The title, Rubik's SuDoku, was highlighted in silver and was a bit too corporate and distracting. I blackened it with a pen.
TABLE BASES TO FACILITATE PUSHING IN CHAIRS
TABLES THAT IMPROVE RESTRAUNT ACOUSTICS
In most noisy bars and restraunts, there are lots of hard surfaces. Concrete, tile, or hardwood floors. Walls with little variation in surface texture. Sometimes, its tough to have a conversation.
Solution: Add some sound dampening material underneath the chairs and tables. Date: September 12, 2019
• Easy to clean.
• Rough irregular texture to disperse sound waves and echos.
• Shapes: concentric rings and grid to facilitate cutting material to fit.
• Thin to minimize encroaching on knee space.
• Easy to cut, apply/adhere to underside surfaces.
• Subtle dark color to blend in and not be noticed.
TABLE NUMBERS IN RESTRAUNTS: THE ULTIMATE SYSTEM
TABLE TOPPER SYSTEM AT MOMA
TABLE TOPS THAT ARE SQUOUND
TABLET SOFTWARE TEMPLATES 1985
TEA BOX PACKAGE DESIGN
TEESHIRT CLOSET RODS
TEESHIRT WORKOUT PLAN
Seeking a way to look fit that was easier than dieting and working out, Tom and I came up with this idea in Austin in the early 1970s. Skip the gym and put on one of these shirts. Since about 2010, there are now numerous options of shirts sporting this concept.
Every so often, on Interstate highways, there could be a long single lane with concrete walls (above) with large rubber rollers or bumpers mounted on each side. A driver could get into this lane, let go of the steering wheel, and have both hands free for texting. This idea doesn't solve the problem of ramming the car in front, however. 2008
Avatar is a great movie. I was totally enthralled. I even got some free glasses (well, they wanted them back). But, they're sorta ugly. A few weeks later I heard a news story about 3D television. Hmm. There's going to be a lot of these ugly 3D glasses around. I'm not sure people will like them around the house. Many people are vain and concerned about how they look. As these glasses become common items in the home people will want something more durable and more stylish than the free giveaways. Teenagers and style-conscious people won't want to wear the free thick black glasses. At home, there may be 3D tv sets in more than one room - many may want more than one pair. people with prescription glasses will want some that fit better. The need for these glasses will increase. The desire for better-looking glasses and prescription glasses will also increase. Many of us will want more than one pair - one to take to the movie theater, one to leave by the remote at home, and, possibly, a back-up pair. Febuary 2010
The well-designed stylish 3D glasses should be:
• Available in a variety of sizes for a more custom fit.
• In a variety of colors and styles for better personal expression and ownership.
• With pop culture and advertising icons.
• Glasses could be combined with prescription lenses to provide a better fit and minimize the ill effects (headaches, nausea) associated with the 3D viewing (see news story below.)
• At a cost so reasonable that buying one or two is not a major purchase decision. Production costs could be partially subsidized by the movie studios and television networks.
• They could be sold at stores that sell television sets, big-box stores, and convenience stores. The prescription versions could be sold at optometrists.
TICKER TAPE PLAQUES ON BROADWAY
TOILET FLUSH HANDLE
I bought my first house in April, 1995. I was looking forward to designing spaces just for me and to being able to solve design problems. One issue I addressed was the (quite simple and easy) task of bending over to flush the toilet, especially when standing.
I sought a way to extend the flush handle so it was easier to get to. I had a leftover piece from a window blind - the rod used to turn the blinds open and shut. I bolted this to the flush handle and put a cap on the exposed end. Fortunately, the handle was mounted on the side of the tank where the motion would be appropriate for an extension. If the handle was mounted on the front, I don't think one could extend it quite this easily. Simple but effective. Much better. Design and production: 1995
TRAIL MARKINGS 1978
TRIPOD HOUSE THAT CAN'T SHIFT WHEN SETTLING
TV PROGRAM TIMES
During promo announcements, there is a slightly awkward notice of the air time of the program: "Eight o'clock, seven central." There must be additional programming for the western US: "Nine o'clock, ten mountain." Not only is there the cumbersome verbage, but networks must record and air different spots based on the time zones.
A simpler and clearer way to communicate show air times - a graphic that shows a stylized map of the US with the 4 time zones delineated and the air time in each zone. Each zone shape is a distinct and representative shape. The viewer, who cares only about one time, will soon learn which shape on the map to focus on to get the time. The voiceover announcer could even say "Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve". We would soon learn which number in the four applied to our time zone area.
The options shown convey a basic shape of the continental US - enough to recognize and remember a specific time zone. There are several ways to render the info. One could have varying grey to mimic typical time zone maps. Others could rely on divisions between the zones. Shows airing at 30 minutes past the hour could be communicated with the familiar 30 stacked next to the hour. Below is a sample showing a location on a screen.
For print copy where the map version doesn't fit, the info can be set as part of the copy. The 4 times and, if necessary, the legend of PMCE - Pacific • Mountain • Central • Eastern.
Concept: spring 2005, Sketches: October/November, 2005
URINALS IN THE HOME
URBAN DESIGN & STREETS & INTERSECTIONS
When these were first introduced - most of us were using trial & error to plug them in correctly. The physical objects gave no clue to 'This side up" and the small printed or embossed USB symbol was tough to see. A mid-size bump on each end, male & female, might have been easier to see. One could even feel the bump. After years of just putting up with the poor design, I drew a short highlighted black line onto adhesive-backed small blank labels. Not as elegant as a solution built into the plug, but simple, effective, and clear. Noticed upon introduction in 1995, finally fixed in 2021.
UT PROTEST POSTER
VELCRO BELT FOR AIRPORT SECURITY
THE WEEK MAGAZINE COVER LAYOUT
There are machines that can digitize photos and documents. Now we need a machine, about the size of a toaster oven with a USB or FireWire connection, that can digitize a pizza. The digitized info can then be transmitted wirelessly to another machine where the pizza is translated back to analog from digital. These machines could even be installed in cars. I am now looking for investors to fund this new Wi-Fi-Pi venture. Please contact me ASAP so we can get started. Thanks.
What Would Jesus Do Condoms might give pause to teenagers who are about to have sex. Hopefully, this might reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, immature mothers, and kids getting married too young (Corey suggests that WWJD could also stand for 'Who Would Jesus Do?') Give them away to undercut the price and success of all others, thereby making them very popular and common.
THE ZUCKERS: FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE AWARDS
A variety of notes, sketches, and proposals of additional design projects.
ABBREVIATE AM & PM TO A & P
Delete the useless M and save the world.
CALENDARS: START THE WEEK ON MONDAY
That's the way most of us plan our weeks and weekends.
USE THE DAY OF THE WEEK WHEN LISTING A DATE
Friday, August 12 is clearer than August 12. "What day is that?"
SET INFO IN A FLUSH CENTER ALIGNMENT
See these examples to see how it makes so much sense.
CHARGE FOR A CUP OF WATER
Of course, we should pay for that drink.
Genders aren't equal in there.