What makes a design intuitive? From a chair, to a building, to a video game, is intuition different to different people?
In the case of the Aeron chair the design can be called intuitive because of its biomorphic attributes. It was designed for Humans so they could sit for long period of time in the most natural way possible, even though sitting for long periods of time can not be really considered natural. So it took in to consideration key human characteristics, like having no straight lines and having no passing instead using a mesh for the contact areas with the body. The latter allowed for the material to act as a permeable membrane which allows air and light moisture to pass through, adding to long-term comfort by preventing body heat and moisture build-up. Sitting can always be considered intuitive, but sitting well is something we definitely need design’s help with.
While looking around for intuitive design in the world of architecture, I stumbled upon the opposite, a housing project called Reversible Destiny Lofts, created by Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins. You might have heard of it before. Here the idea is to create living environments which are not conformable, for example putting the light switches in random places or having uneven floors. This counter intuitive design was created to stimulate the person’s instincts so they can enjoy a greater longevity, so claim the creators. At the least it seems a good way to develop creativity and/or patience.
Strangely enough all of this curiosity about intuitive design was brought upon by a video game. I was playing a game called Sin and Punishment, when I found myself feeling very comfortable with the controls and the game-play. This feeling could be equated with going to the house one grew up in and feeling that instant familiarity even though years or even decades have gone by. With this game I felt the designers were taking me by the hand on a new yet familiar adventure, much like when mother would bake your favorite cake, only to find out that it’s now three time as big and you don’t have to share it with anyone. I guess you could say that to me, intuitive design is like having your cake and eating it too.