From handheld Dysons to teabags: the everyday items designers couldn’t live without

Last week, Apple revealed it was killing off its iPod Nano and Shuffle models. We ask designers about the everyday products they would miss the most if they were to go out of production.

Tess Wicksteed, strategy partner, Here Design

“The everyday thing I would miss most is the book. If they stopped producing books my bag would be much lighter, but my life would be too. I like turning over a new page – I like the visible progress. I really like writing in the books I’m reading (it’s funny to look back on random lists or deep comments like ‘morality always contingent?’). I like carrying otherness around with me. More than anything, I value the opportunity to escape to another place and time, and in their defence, books are lighter than a Tardis.”

Matthew Cockerill, creative director, Seymourpowell

“I’d miss the humble radio. Of course, I could get access to many more stations and music services through my smartphone, but I’d have to unlock it first and then look at the display because of the visual nature of its interaction. The radio on the other hand, offers physical affordances (buttons and rotary knobs to you and me) that require minimal visual interaction to get the service you want. It’s a pretty universal PUI (physical user interface) that’s been refined over more than 100 years, compared to the UI variances of app-based radio. It ultimately delivers a frictionless experience as a background to my domestic life, rather than being a distraction from it. With the ongoing development of tangible user interfaces (TUI), the radio as an everyday product could far outlive the smartphone.”

Peter Clarkson, senior designer, Thomas.Matthews

“The product I would miss most would be the camera. Photography is my favourite way to record life and the world around me – I have an emotional investment in the product and the process. It’s that connection that keeps products ‘alive’, even when they don’t make financial sense and are taken off the shelves – they still exist and in some cases bring about a revival. Film photography is a great example of that.”

Angela Drinkall, partner, Drinkall Dean

“I have to be honest, I would miss my iPad mini very much. I would miss it more than my phone. In fact, I would quite like not to have a phone at all. I love my iPad – it’s with me constantly, and rests on my bedside table. It’s a window on the world and I love the access it gives me. I have travelled the planet on Google Earth, I am a sort-of expert on planets in our solar system. And shopping? Well, it’s full of ideas, sketches and thoughts. It is a bit of my conscience.

Practically though, I could not live without my handheld Dyson. It has replaced the brush and pan in terms of convenience, and in a small way it makes me feel like I am tidy! We have one in the studio and because I spent so much money on it, no one else dare uses it apparently.”

Alan Dye, director, NB Studio

“I certainly wouldn’t miss Apple’s new iMac, with its annoyingly loud keyboard, irrelevant gimmicky touch bar and the £140 collection of dongles I now have to carry around to show anything on all my clients’ presentation screens! For the first time in 20 years, I’ve lost my belief in the Apple brand. Tea is what I would miss – I don’t care if it’s loose leaf, round, square, triangle or a disposal, fancy nylon bag. Whatever new fancy trick they try to flog the leaves in, the end result makes me feel good. The sign of a good brand. And Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs – a beautiful, simple formula that’s endured and entertained for 75 years. Amen.”

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