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.
It's my first few hours in Bangkok, and by looking around the train, I can tell it's rainy season. Thin raincoats cover suits, and young mothers juggle both sunglasses and umbrellas.
As I exit the train, I look up, count to three and speed through a very thick rainstorm toward my Airbnb. After a much-needed nap, I open my eyes to a completely different climate. I peek through the shutters of my room and see an indigo sky, birds flying, and I am feeling the heat.
I pick up my fanny pack and leave the Airbnb immediately to explore the neighborhood. On a quiet side road, beside the fence of a wood craftsman shop, a thick black piece of tarp covers a corrugated fence. It’s held in place by a clever set of weights—filled plastic water bottles.
It strikes me that such an old trick can be found everywhere across the world. I start to wonder how can these four small bottles make it through such heavy, rainy days.
I stop to stare at a man approaching me. The woodchips on his shirt make it seem like he must be heading out from the shop nearby. He whispers something, unties a couple of bottles, and brings them to the shop's outdoor sink. These short bursts of sunlight heat must dry the water in them pretty quickly, I thought to myself. Regardless of the one million square meters of water falling over Bangkok each September, nothing beats the strength of a tropical sun, and the dedication of an old craftsman to keep his work tools dry.