2015Twelve essential GDA perspectives on design trends
Macky Kato
Director’s message

Enticing design, for peace of mind and safety


To begin, we should define the terms in this Focused Issue, which are sometimes used interchangeably. Experience suggests that in contrast to the objective judgment of being safe, having peace of mind can be interpreted as a subjective state. Security comes in many different forms, such as various assurances and anti-crime measures. To be fully satisfied, users must feel this peace of mind through products or projects (including those evaluated in the award program), as determined subjectively by each user. Designers charged with instilling this peace of mind, on the other hand, must ensure that what they design is safe, based on objective criteria. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to state that the Product Liability Act of 1995 implies responsibility beyond this role. If we consider what underlies the tendency among the best 100 of the many outstanding design entries this year to afford safety and peace of mind, we can attribute people’s uneasiness and desire for peace of mind to four factors: disaster, disease, accidents, and crime.

Natural disasters cannot be averted, but we can prepare for them. The sources of energy that society turns to in emergencies should also support us after disasters subside, and Toshiba’s standalone hydrogen power system promises peace of mind normally and in times of need. Similar assurance comes from Panasonic lanterns and solar energy storage systems, products we use normally that can continue to be used during emergencies.

In taking on disease, design supporting renowned medical care is showing even greater quality and versatility. The GE ultrasound system, for example, can also be used in emerging nations. Insulin patients can avoid medical mishaps with an auto-injector from Eli Lilly that keeps the needle safely retracted before and after use. Both products afford peace of mind in medical care.

Avoiding careless accidents in everyday situations requires both preventive mechanisms and ways to make users aware of potential hazards. For drivers, a good example of the former approach is found in an inspired Subaru automatic braking system that enhances traffic safety. For doctors or nurses who might be exposed to droplets of medicine or fluids when treating patients, a clever face shield from 3M Japan provides protection. Similarly, workers at hazardous sites will be more amenable to wearing the stylish spectacles in 3M’s series of protective eyewear, which encourages use.

Concerns About crime also make people uneasy, even in decidedly peaceful Japan. One application of technology to deter crime is a Panasonic network camera that records what it monitors. The mere presence of such a camera enhances security. Against the distinctively modern threat of cybercrime, quantum key distribution in Toshiba’s quantum cryptographic communication system is being tested as a means of preventing a university’s genome research data from being tampered with during transmission. Each of these may bring peace of mind by curbing crime.

Outside of the purview of designers, how products are actually used is left to each user’s discretion, which ultimately determines whether users derive peace of mind. But as mentioned, product design must ensure safety, and regardless of users’ subjective judgments, designers must incorporate ample safety features. In the four areas discussed, where we crave peace of mind, we should imagine that people value safety in particular. In consideration of the potential risks that exist, not only designers but consumers as well must recognize the value of safety-conscious products. Creating safety and peace of mind can then be seen as the responsibility of both designers and users. Toward this end, things must be satisfying and fulfilling to use when used safely, which makes diligent user experience design that encourages safety all the more promising.

In the context of the “Safety / Security” Focused Issue, this is how society can enjoy greater peace of mind and safety.

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Focused Issues