Emotional design

Oil & vinegar dispenser set

I bought this lovely and quite practical oil and vinegar dispenser set for myself for Christmas. Or actually I bought it for my Mom so that she could give it to me as a present. I guess keeping secrets is not a tradition in our Christmas celebration. Openness leads to better presents anyway!

And this present really is a good one. When making dinner before, I had to run back and forth from the kitchen to the dinner table several times to fetch the oil, the vinegar, the salt and the pepper. Or I tried to carry all the different containers at once to save some precious seconds, ending up making a mess instead.

Now, however, I can carry all four items AND my dinner plate in one hand, and my glass of water in the other. In addition to this, the oil and vinegar bottle tops pour the oil and vinegar in a way that ensures that the exact right amount of liquid ends up in my salad. I pour oil like a pro now. And I almost get emotional while pouring. I no longer need to hold my breath and concentrate deeply while adding oil or vinegar to the dish of the day – worrying about when the bottle will release a river of wetness onto it. Emotional, I tell you. Wow.

The design of everyday things is a book by Donald Norman, a professor in cognitive psychology and a brilliant speaker I got to see last year at the «From Business To Buttons» conference in Malmö. He is passionate about the things that surrounds us, and at the conference he talked about how design might make us emotional. Design might also confuse us, though… Norman asked the audience at the conference an «everyday» question concerning the salt and pepper shakers:

Most salt and pepper shakers have one top with one hole in it, and one top with two, three or more holes in it. Would you put the salt into the container with one hole, or the container with several holes in it?

Most people were convinced they had the right answer, still the audience at his conference were divided into two equally large groups. When googling ‘salt pepper shakers’ I found that many product designers are confused about the matter too:

Alternative 1:
1 hole for salt, 3 holes for pepper

Alternative 2:
3 holes for salt, 1 hole for pepper

When I filled my salt and pepper shakers for my new dispenser set – I simply chose alternative 1 because I know that I salt my food too much as it is. With only one hole, I might trick myself into cutting down on the salt!

Which container would you put the salt into?

6 Responses to “Emotional design”

  1. Eirik sier:

    Personally I like this idea, but with a twist:
    «Emotional design» does hot have to be an artifact designed/shaped to to provoke feelings directly by eye/ear/touch, but by function.

    A salt and pepper mill has a clearly defined function: to grind and spread salt and pepper from chunk/seed into small appetizing pieces. By doing that cleverly, effectively, efficiently, without too much fuzz – it makes me feel good. Is that emotional design? Is ‘good design’ good if I realize how wonderful it is? If so- aren’t all good designs emotional?

    I think the picture underneath would be my preference:

  2. Kristin sier:

    But it’s exactly the function I get emotional about when it comes to my oil and vinegar dispenser set :) How easy it is to carry by the handle between two fingers – while still being able to carry a plate of pasta in the very same hand. And the way the dressing tops are designed to let me pour the oil perfectly onto the food.

    I guess my set would be even more perfect if it contained salt and pepper mills for the fresh feeling, rather than traditional salt and pepper shakers. But that would probably mess up the clean round shape that the four containers make up… Oh well. I can’t have it all, I guess!

    Hm… I thought images were allowed. They were before anyway. I’ll check it out!

  3. le franc sier:

    Can i get the price for the salt & pepper shaker and a sample if it possible.


  4. Moira White sier:

    I would like to know where I can purchase the dancing salt and pepper shakers (Alternative 2) It would make a really unusual birthday present for my girlfriend who ballroom dances.

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