Thursday, August 8, 2019

Arthur Brown, Stress Cases & Twins

Weekly Update 2019-29: Fire! The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, designing for stress cases and that feel when you see some good asymmetrical design.

Music: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
There is a new classic to add to the fishing soundtrack this year. My dad has a wonderful old iPod Classic filled with all his old Limewire downloads of classic rock songs, and it is the main soundtrack of our fishing trips because it doesn't require internet. A very special song came on, one I had never heard before but is so catchy that we just kept playing it on repeat.

Arthur Brown's hit Fire is a lovely stroll back into 60s psychedelic rock, complete with weirdo lyrics and even weirder theatrics: during live performances and in the black and white promotional television clip, Brown performed the song wearing a burning helmet. The helmet was improvised with a leather skull cap onto which was bolted a metal dish that held lighter fluid or petrol. As the cap was not insulated, the heat from the burning fuel quickly conducted through the fixing bolt to the top of Brown's head, causing him considerable pain.

Check it out:

Twas quite a fishing week that has now drawn to a close. As I hoped, all the kids came up to visit at some time throughout the week, though sadly not all at the same time. In any case, it made for a nice bit of variation: we went swimming at a waterfall with natural whirlpools and I even got to check out my dad's old notebook of fishing histories. I loved trying to decipher his shorthand - and even noticed a few guest appearances of myself in the later pages.

I managed to make it back to the city in time for the final day of the member preview of Sci-Fi and Horror movie posters at the ROM. This was Sasha's and my second trip to the ROM since we got memberships, and I hope to go at least a couple more times.

Sorry mom, but this is the coolest poster for Rosemary's Baby ever.

I also finally got another chance to practice drumming in the office, though the kit has been moved back into the main kitchen area. Therein whenever anyone might come into the office, they'd see and hear me quite well. At least I got some private practice time to sharpen my skills at the start of this venture!

Another exciting activity I hadn't done in a while was to participate in a group bike party on Saturday night. What a lovely group of people, it only makes me wish even more that they'd move their usual day off from Wednesday...but I imagine they never will.

This week, my friend Natalie comes back to Toronto from London, England to visit for her birthday. She always books a million activities to choose from and has excellent taste in friends, so there will be some good times happening this week.

Next weekend is jam-packed as well: my band is playing the 20th annual Muhtadi drumming festival and (regrettably) the same day, our bandmate Christin has asked us to help set up her Ikea shelving units before their contractor will install them in their new (to them) house. Lots of work to be done!

Finally, I'll be making my annual trip to Toronto Island with Matt, hoping that some of the beaches are not completely underwater.

Random Thought: Stress Cases
I promised myself I would start reading my newly won design research books on my fishing trip. The first of the lot, Design For Real Life goes over several examples of tactics for the designer to better  understand the true gamut of their user base. We can't speak to every user in the world, so we'd better make sure we pick the ones who count in order to give us a clear picture of every use case.

Meyer and Wachter-Boettcher outline a specific concept that I really enjoyed. We talk a lot in my workplace about "edge cases" - those instances or experiences of users who usually (1) have the most trouble completing tasks for whatever reason and (2) are the minority within the user base.

Sadly, we tend to design for the "normal" case that covers the majority of users, promising that we'll get back to the edge cases "later on" - how long later? We never know. So, instead we can choose to focus on the "stress cases" first and foremost. We select the users who will have the most potential struggle and design the system for their needs. In doing this, we make a broad sweep over the normal cases anyway, and all is well with the world.

Inspiration: Twins
I have been seeing a lot of almost-double lately. First, my coworker flashed his almost-matching sock pairing the other day. It had a cute squiggly blue line motif, but the base colour of one was orange, the other pink. Slightly asymmetrical designs seem to be popping up all over, and I'm really digging it.

Check out the Camper Twins line, a series of asymmetrical colourways (and occasionally physical details) in a variety of shoe styles. I'm in love with all of these!

Asymmetrical designs provide some kind of interest that is so magnetizing, I can't quite articulate why. Though I always think about Abbi from Broad City saying that her eyebrows were actually sisters, indeed not twins, due to their unpluckably asymmetrical form.

Asymmertrical beauty is everywhere I look. Take my friend Eric's dog Theo for example - he's got one floppy ear and I love it so much. I can't believe pet owners try to train their dogs' ears away from this cuteness.

The human body is naturally asymmetrical and should be celebrated as such. It brings such interest into an otherwise uniform (and boring) world.

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