It was then that a friend turned to me quietly and said that the clock on the wall was ticking too loudly.
We had the clock immediately removed. The hospital staff were initially bemused by the request, but when we explained they seemed to agree…
. The hospital, one of the best (and most expensive) ones in the city, was indeed pretty good. But its design was functional, efficient, and focused on physical comfort. However, a lot more thought could have been invested in terms of designing it for emotional comfort. Design seems to have emanated from the left-brain alone, whereas in a hospital there is a great need for applying emotional logic as well. The ticking clock was but one example – but there were numerous other instances during the stay where one felt that the place and its processes was well-intentioned but not necessarily well-designed.
Which brings us to thought of how difficult good design is. At best most things are designed for functionality, the physical delivery. But a lot can be achieved in terms of product design by empathizing with the emotional states of people at every stage of their interactions with our products.
And what of my aunt. Well, she came through her surgery with flying colours. After spending the mandatory period at the ICU, she was wheeled back to the same room a few days later. The clock was back! She was oblivious to our discussions about the clock and its subsequent removal the first time. An hour into her return to the room, she looked at the clock and said with mild irritation – ‘this thing is too loud’!!