At Forward Thinking Design we all like to sit out on the balcony and eat our lunch together each day.  This daily ritual tends to involve a lot of laughter and helps us grow as a team as we learn more and more about each other.  It’s a great chill out and I know my staff look forward to it as much as I do.

Sometimes the conversation does end up being design orientated rather than centreing on our own personal adventures and I wanted to relate to you one such conversation we had the other day.  It began with my lamenting the fact that I am so often out on the road, at meetings, or out on site and hence miss the daily lunch conversation. I also often end up eating on the run and I was bemoaning the fact that I make bad food choices because I cannot bring my lunch along from home on these days because it will go off if left to stew in the car all day. I raised the question of why cars don’t ALL come standard with a built-in refrigerated compartment somewhere in the dash area, for keeping your lunch cool.  And why is it that my car has cup holders but these aren’t refrigerated either?  In a country as hot as Australia, with such long driving distances, surely it makes sense to provide mobile professionals with the convenience of cold drink and a fresh, healthy, home-made lunch available from their own vehicles?

One of my staff also pointed out that whilst many new cars have volume and CD track controls on the steering wheel, many don’t have the air con controls as conveniently at hand (or visa versa). These controls are designed into the steering wheel for the driver’s comfort but also to reduce distractions and accidents but the car manufacturers haven’t moved ALL the essentials on EVERY car to this finger tip area.

This prompted me to raise yet another question about automotive design and it’s fit with the actual realities of day -to-day life… Where do you put your umbrella on a rainy day? If you put it in the boot then you get wet getting into the car. If you put it in the rear or passenger seat then your car interior gets wet and ends up smelling damp for weeks on end. One of my staff said she had seen a story on a very expensive car that had an umbrella hidden in the cavity in the driver side door so you could just press a button when you wanted it and out the umbrella would pop. But I wonder about the smell and corrosive effects of re-stowing the wet umbrella in the cavity after use?

I asked the question; why hasn’t someone designed an umbrella tray car accessory that can be fitted onto the outside of the car, at the skirt level just below the door? It could be a gutter style compartment with a solid lid to keep the rain out. The bottom and ends could be perforated to allow for the water off the wet umbrella to escape whilst allowing air flow in to promote drying and prevent mould growth.

Of course, we aren’t automotive designers and acknowledge that there are safety, aerodynamic and styling considerations to be taken into account.  However, design is the art of creating solutions to problems and the problem of the wet umbrella is certainly one that this group of creatives has some ideas on. Is that Toyota on the phone…?

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