In Industrial Design â€“ Materials and Manufacturing Guide (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), author Jim Lesko claims the famous term â€śform follows functionâ€ť would be better restated as â€śform is the resolution of function.â€ť In his definition, product function comprises two main components. One is â€śperformance-specification demands, including all user-friendly aspects.â€ť The other is cost and manufacturability. When designers forget about the â€śuser-friendlyâ€ť aspects, the result is almost always a bad design.
Though itâ€™s not mentioned in the book, take the case of a lowly toilet-paper holder. The designers neglected to consider the fact that all toilet paper rolls are not necessarily the same. The result is a holder that often puts users in an embarrassing position. No matter how they try, they cannot grab enough of the end of the roll to pull down a piece and take care of business.
The designers probably didnâ€™t neglect research studies, finish color, texture, safety of materials, manufacturability, and all the other factors of product analysis at this stage. But the holder is an example of a bad design. Why? There is no option for the device to work with a flawed roll of toilet paper. This should have been a major design consideration, especially because the holder is intended for use with large-diameter, industrial toilet-paper rolls (which only unroll when they fit in the holder perfectly).
Now consider what happens when the first roll in the holder has a distorted mounting hole.
The poorly formed mounting hole causes the roll to cock, jamming it against the holder sides such that users canâ€™t pull off the tiniest shred of paper. Worse yet, a cocked roll leaves no room for a user to reach in and remove the first roll to manually unwind a length to use.
Do you agree this is an industrial-design issue? Should holder mounts be redesigned to better accept nonperfect holes? Or should facilities 100%-inspect all incoming rolls?