Posts tagged “unintended consequences”

Affordance Control

Affordances for hanging clothes suggested by the fire prevention sprinklers in this Iowa City hotel led to the creation and posting of “no hanging” signs.



Nicolas Nova discussed similar tensions between designed intentions and serendipitous affordances in a recent post on design exhibits.

The need to discourage some uses while encouraging others adds an interesting layer to the design problem space, especially in contexts where there are widely varying types of user.

Skateboard deterrent devices are a common “anti-affordance,” usually retrofit after skaters discover alternate uses for a structure (skaters are virtuosos at finding and exploiting all sorts of affordances).


This particular anti-skate hardware is sold by

“The GrinderMinder is intended to maintain the integrity of your beautifully planned landscape design, without detracting from the overall effect of the landscape.”

Grind2aHalt’s product is designed not only to thwart unintended use (skating) but also to support the intentions of the original design — in this case, the aesthetic aspects of that design.

It’s a good reminder of how complex the dynamics of objects, context, and usage are. Even this outwardly simple product is actually operating on many levels.

NOTE: This is not an anti-skateboarding post. I offer this picture of myself, circa 1981 …


Related posts:
In November ’07, Nicolas and Steve had another go-round on anti-skating devices.


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