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Thoughtless Acts: Glove Compartment

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Jun 20 2019

Human-centered design requires us to observe human behavior with beginner's eyes, so that we can spot the innate ways people interact with the world around them. We call these intuitive and unconscious reactions Thoughtless Acts, and IDEO designers collect photos of them to inspire their work.

Spring in London vibrates with the tweeting of birds and the drilling of construction excavators. It’s a surreal symphony of nature and gentrification.

I was late for work and speeding up my usual way when I got detoured by a few meters of plastic barrier. As I walked around the construction equipment, I heard one worker shout to another.

"I'll pick up my gloves and be right back," he said. He walked by me and leaned towards a hole in the temporary barrier where his gloves were neatly stored.

"Excuse me," I started with my typical nosey flair. "Why do you keep your gloves in there?" He must have a locker, I thought to myself, or even a pocket where to store them on site.

"I work on different areas of the site,” he said, “and I need different gloves based on the job. These barriers crack very easily, so they provide the perfect storage space when I need it and where I need it."

As I looked at his hiding spot, I thought about designing for the end of life of products, like construction barriers, mailboxes, and or a simple shoebox. It was the first time I considered the new use cases that can come from deterioration and change.

As he walked away, he smiled tightly; I had acknowledged his hidden creative side.

  • Luca Ponticelli

    Communications Designer, IDEO London
    Luca is a comms designer and serial doodler. On an average day, you'll find him dissecting the latest political news while sipping on a dark espresso.
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