Everyday Object Critique

Pick an everyday object and critique it. Be prepared to present your critique in class. If possible, bring your object with you for your presentation (you do not need to hand in the object, and it is OK if it is not possible to bring it in).

Your critique should be 2 to 4 pages typed and double-spaced with 1 inch margins. Be sure to describe your object, including the functions of the object and the controls. Discuss the object in terms of the general design principles discussed in class:

Most objects will have positive and negative things about them. Some features will be very easy to use while others will be difficult. Discuss both positive and negative aspects of design.

Be sure to focus on design issues, rather than workmanship issues. For example, I have a can opener that is very hard to turn. It does not open cans well at all. However, that is a matter of poor workmanship. It is obvious from the design what I am supposed to do and how to do it, but it does not work. On the other hand, when poor workmanship relates to design, you can discuss that. For example, I have an object with a cheap plastic piece that is designed in such a way that you can't help breaking it off. To operate the object, it seems that you are supposed to press against the plastic piece. If you don't press hard enough, the object does not work; if you press too hard (as I did recently), the plastic piece breaks.

Here are some potential objects that you can critique: a DVD player, a clock radio, an office telephone, an answering machine, the controls on a car dashboard. You might also choose simpler objects, such as a window, a multicolor pen, a 3-hole punch, a sofabed. But be sure you have more than a quick paragraph or two to say in your critique. The objects listed here are just examples. You have many objects around your house and school that can be used. Do not choose an object that was discussed in class unless you have much more to say about it than what was mentioned in class.

I will be looking for a clear and concise description of the object; discussion of how each of the design principles applies to the object, making it easier or harder to use; and a feeling of your joys and frustrations using this object. You also may include suggestions for how this object could be designed better. Click here to see the grading rubric.

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This page was prepared by Dr. David M. Marcovitz.

Last Updated: July 8, 2011