How design works: one funny aspect
Good design always requires a smart combination of multiple elements. Even the design for a simple product has to fulfil several requirements: ease of use, low production cost, innovative values, beautiful styling … From time to time you come across a small, simple product that seems to do just one thing, brilliantly.
For example: the well-known Lid Sid, the little silicone man from Monkey Business who keeps your pots from boiling over.
The figure hangs over the edge of the pot. You can choose whether to have his legs on the boiling inside or on the cool outside. Either way, the lid is kept slightly open, allowing the steam to escape. In its simple and very clear way, the product fulfils the basic functional demands. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Despite its apparent simplicity, this clever design solves a lot of problems. With a good choice of material, well-balanced design and good functional communication (semantics), the design has become a classic. Anyone in the business knows that you walk a fine line when you create a figurative design. It has to be stylish but not a caricature. This is quite difficult. The skilful proportions of the Lid Sid give it its iconic, graphic appearance. You can’t imagine changing a single element, because it is in perfect balance.
But, and this is maybe the most difficult part for a product designer, it’s also funny. Everyone who encounters the product in the kitchen for the first time is attracted to this fine example of good design. The product is its own ambassador and absolutely a conversation topic.
So, instead of aiming for just one function (keep that pot open), the designer Luka Or added a second one: bring some humour to the kitchen. The Lid Sid humanizes the sober functional aid.
And maybe that’s good advice for designing products in general. Make them mirror real life. The more the product is aimed at a big consumer market, the more humour it can bear. The Lid Sid creates a sense of cosy, quality time and a cocooning atmosphere, which won’t work so well in a professional environment.
Maybe the designer researched his potential customers thoroughly.
Maybe, it was just a lucky shot (hhmmm, I don’t think so).