I recently watched Gary Hustwit’s latest film Objectified and have been looking for a chance to write something about industrial design. In the extra interviews on the Objectified DVD Mark Newson spoke about the deplorable state of baby product design. My wife and I have a ten month old and although baby products are not particularly attractive in an aesthetic sense I haven’t had much cause to complain until today. Norah, our baby, is pretty close to walking so Sierra, my wife, got her a stroller that she could push to start making some steps. After struggling to put the thing together and leaving some screws only half screwed in because they are in an impossible to get to part of the stroller, we were ready to let Norah give it a go. Now babies only have one direction and typically one speed when using a toy like this so they go until the run into something. When Norah ran into something the stroller immediately tipped forward and sent her toppling over. Luckily she’s a trooper and was fine, but it just seemed like such an oversight that I can’t help but think that there was not much usability testing put into the stroller.
The fact that the wheels aren’t out in front are the reason that shopping carts don’t flip into the air when they roll into things, according to some teenage testing. One solution could be something like this:
Baby products that are safe, stable, and easy to put together would seem to be a given in such a large industry, but they’re not. I hope that some more thought goes into products for children, because as it stands I agree with Mark Newson. I feel held hostage because these things are important for developing minds but there’s not really a good alternative to look to. Let me know what you think or if you’ve found a good baby brand that’s well designed.