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Thoughtless Acts: Saved by the Trash

Nov 18 2016

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 the invention of new products, services, and experiences.

Ta Motorcycle

Image by Stina Jonsson

I took this picture in Lima, Perú. A delivery guy used the cardboard to protect his motorcycle from the rain while picking up orders in the store.

Lima is often gray and cloudy: the locals refer to this weather as “panza de burro" — the "underbelly of the donkey.” However it doesn’t actually rain much. The lack of rain is something of a joke (for example, there’s a theatre play called "Nunca llueve en Lima” — “It never rains in Lima"). So the need to cover your possessions from rain is one that only comes up infrequently.

The owner of this motorcycle was able to improvize, in part because the attitude towards trash is somewhat different. In the West, discarded objects tend to be hidden away and inaccessible. Here, there are more shades of gray: trash is more available and may find more utility before it's discarded for the last time.

Read more from our Thoughtless Acts series here.