[Humanist] 29.630 subtle influences at home

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sun Jan 17 10:27:32 CET 2016

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 630.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2016 10:06:39 -0500 (EST)
        From: lachance at chass.utoronto.ca
        Subject: Re:  29.627 subtle influences at home
        In-Reply-To: <20160116064307.C7D0B7D85 at digitalhumanities.org>


The thread on devices and habits reminds me of the story of demitasse
design that I first encountered in the documentary Design is One. And
found rehearsed here...


Brendan Francis Newnam: So there's a scene in the film, it's a scene from
your life, where you were designing plateware for Heller. You created this
clever, minimal, plastic plateware that can stack and do things. There's a
mug for hot coffee with a handle that you designed, and it's hard to
describe this on the radio, but essentially, the handle was such that it
acted like a gutter if you filled the coffee mug up too high.

Massimo Vignelli: Yes, for putting your finger.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, it's for putting your thumb, you can put it in
this ridge, but if you filled up the cup too high, coffee would spill out of
the ridge.

You, being from European background, knew this was a demitasse cup, and this
cup was not meant to be ever filled to the top, yet Americans fill up a
cuppa joe, and they were spilling it.

It turned out to be fine - you know, it's in the permanent collection of the
Museum of Modern Art - but I'm wondering: how do you know when you're ahead
of your time versus just being wrong?

Massimo Vignelli: I wasn't wrong. I wasn't wrong.

Brendan Francis Newnam: But people weren't able to drink their coffee in
America for a while.


-- Francois Lachance Scholar-at-large

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