While people think of beauty and aesthetics when talking about design, we believe it offers a lot more than that. Good design is always functional first, and then aesthetic. What’s more, good designers tend to have a knack for coming up with simple, subtle solutions to everyday problems that we all face. Often, it’s just a small tweak that makes all the difference in the world. We’ve compiled a list of 40 of the best modifications out there by designers who solved common problems by paying attention to every little detail. Let’s dive in.
When you can’t make up your mind
Using chopsticks is one of those things that either comes very naturally to you or seems like rocket science. Let’s face it, though — it’s often a lot easier to just use a fork instead of chopsticks when having Asian food. However, if you’re unsure about which one you prefer or simply like switching things up, this designer created something totally unique: a 2-in-1 fork and chopsticks utensil. This way, you can pretend like you know how to use chopsticks for 30 seconds and switch to a fork without having to wash an additional utensil.
Toe buttons to the rescue
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become very hesitant to come in direct contact with shared spaces like door knobs and handles. That’s why we think whoever designed these toe buttons for elevators is a genius. We feel like this invention is perfect to help reduce the spread of the infection, since you come in contact with the buttons through your shoes. What’s more, you don’t have to use a sanitizer as often, meaning your skin will stay protected and hydrated. Not bad, right?
Make your microwave less annoying
The best designs are the ones that improve upon small, everyday things that people have begrudgingly learned to live with. Take the noise that microwaves make, for example. It’s meant to be annoying by definition but surely, we’ve all wondered from time to time if there was a way to tone it down just a bit. That’s exactly the problem this designer was looking to solve when they integrated a volume control option in this microwave. It’s additional features like this that really make all the difference.
A better way to use public restrooms
If you’d rather not use public restrooms unless you absolutely have to, trust us when we say that you’re most definitely not alone. It’s just one of those things that we’d all prefer to avoid. One thing that people really dislike is having to touch faucets and handles that have been touched by thousands of dirty hands. However, with a sink that you can activate with your knees, we feel like the experience would be slightly more tolerable. While it’s not perfect, it’s still better than what we have now.
A special slot for tea bags
There’s nothing fundamentally new about this teacup. After all, it’s really nothing more than just that. However, the designer behind this minimalistic piece made one tiny innovation that makes it unique: a special slot for tea bags. What’s more, it’s such a simple change that you don’t even have to use the mug differently. We feel like this slot would also likely help the tea-bags steep better in the water, meaning you get a fuller experience of the subtleties and nuances of the spices in your tea.
Have a safer experience on the elevator
All elevators have a maximum capacity beyond which it’s incredibly unsafe to use them without asking people to step out of it. However, it’s one of those things that we often take for granted. We don’t have to tell you why this isn’t a good thing, especially in buildings that see a lot of hustle and bustle on a daily basis. That’s why we love this: it gives you a visual depiction of how much capacity remains. What’s more, the decision to depict this using a see-saw means everyone will intuitively understand it.
Rent a charger at this vending machine
Being without a charger is the equivalent of being lost in the middle of the desert in today’s technology-driven world. It’s one of those things that shows you just how dependent we’ve all become on technology. If you’re travelling, it’s also something you absolutely can’t forget to pack with your clothes and other essentials. However, if you do end up forgetting it, buying a new one can be expensive. Fortunately, hotels like this one have started offering machines through which guests can rent out chargers. Not bad, right?
Measure your coffee and store it safely
Coffee is one of those things that not only helps us function better, but also connects us with the people we love. After all, who doesn’t love catching up with old friends over a cup of coffee? Regardless of whether you like lattes or espressos, we’re sure you can appreciate how cool this design is. Best of all, you can even clip to the packaging your coffee grounds came in and leave it tightly sealed, while having a sponge conveniently at your disposal at the same time.
The shorter side of the sheets
They say that simple things like doing your bed in the morning when you wake up, for example, can help build discipline and even help improve your mood. Yet, anyone who’s folded sheets by themselves before knows that it isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. Finding the right corner can often be very difficult, especially for sheets designed for king-sized beds. However, this tag is bound to make things a whole lot easier for anyone struggling with this problem. Even though it’s a minor struggle, it helps to have it at your disposal.
Because pets deserve proper care too
For a lot of people, their connections with their pets are as significant as the ones they have with their friends and family members. Even if you’re not keen on pets yourself, we’re sure you can appreciate the role that service pets play in keeping our society safer. To ensure that service pets are better taken care of, this airport has special sections where they can rest and even get some sleep. We think it’s nice to see them getting the special considerations they deserve. The fire hydrant is a neat little addition too.
Never overheat frozen food again
Brands can often communicate a lot about their product by making subtle changes to their packaging. However, they also have to make sure customers notice it and understand what the company is trying to communicate. Take the packaging of these frozen meals, for example. Notice the time on the microwave and how it’s different in both images? They indicate the different heating times required for each product. Considering how easy it is to overlook these meals, we’re sure customers would appreciate this.
A shredded soap dispenser
Soap dispensers have become a common fixture in most public restrooms around the world. They make it so much easier for folks to wash their hands without having to use the same bar of soap that everyone else would use. In fact, that’s also what makes this design so different, since it’s really unusual to see a bar soap dispenser in a public restroom. The device shreds the soap, meaning you can still rely on your trusty old friend without worrying about risks of infection. It shows how subtle innovations are often the best.
Curtains designed to help you sleep
Curtains do a pretty good job of making sure your sleep isn’t ruined by the glare of the sun. What’s more, they’re also crucial in helping you maintain your privacy. However, we’re sure many of our readers have noticed how even the best-designed curtains often allow for a sliver of sunshine to make it through. That’s also the problem this designer was looking to solve with this innovation. The overlapping curtain rod ensures that even the most stubborn ray of sunlight doesn’t get in. This way, you can sleep without any disturbance.
Door handles with textured gripping
You’d think that a piece of technology that works as well as door handles probably wouldn’t need any improvement. However, if you’ve ever struggled with opening a door because you were wearing gloves or because your hands were oily, you’re going to love this textured door handle. As you can tell from the picture, the textured grooves provide a much better grip, meaning you can open the door no matter how slippery your hands are. We’re not going to lie, it also makes the door handle much more aesthetically pleasing.
Never get blasted with freezing water again
One of the things that’s really annoying about showers, and the way faucets are typically positioned, is that you often risk getting wet — even if you just want to check the temperature. In fact, some faucets are so ill-designed that it’s impossible not to get entirely drenched in freezing water. That’s why we love this design. As you can tell from the image, it doesn’t do anything differently. The only change is that the faucet is now on the other side. We’re amazed this isn’t how faucets are positioned by default.
Manhole or work of art?
At first glance, this manhole might look like something you might find in a museum of contemporary art or a video game. Just look at how beautiful the engraving is! However, you might be amazed to know that it’s just one of many ordinary manholes in the city of Seattle. What’s more, it even has a map of the city, making it especially useful for tourists who are confused about which way to go. It’s aesthetically pleasing and functional, illustrating what perfect design looks like. Not bad, Seattle!
Finally, somewhere to park your skateboard
Skateboarding isn’t just something people do for fun. It’s also an efficient means of transportation, especially on college and school campuses. However, people who skateboard often struggle to find a place where they can store their board without worrying about it being stolen. That’s why we find it perplexing how unlike storage spaces for bicycles, there’s never a designated place for skateboards. We’d love to see fixtures similar to this one in more cities. Just drop your board in and you’re ready to go.
Curved plus do it better
Even though power outlets often have two holes, they’re often designed in such a manner that plugging in two thick cords is difficult, if not impossible. It’s usually not an issue with thinner cords, but you’d be lucky to insert two overlapping thick wires at the same time. Frustrated by this everyday problem, one designer set out to solve this once and for all and their solution was simple yet effective: curved plugs. What’s more, it works just as well even if only one of your plugs is curved. What an amazing little modification!
Kids’ menus at kids’ heights
This is one of those designs that’s so obvious, yet something most people wouldn’t have thought about if it weren’t for whoever came up with this. As you can tell from the photo, all the restaurant has done is place the kids’ menu under the counter so the kids can actually read it. It makes perfect sense considering how most children would have a hard time reading menus at the height they’re usually kept at. What’s more, children can now pick their food themselves, instead of relying on their parents.
Keep your phone under the table
Many people would agree with us when we say that smartphones can make it difficult to socialize at restaurants. However, most people don’t leave their house without their phones, and many of the phones today are too big to keep in your pockets. What’s more, leaving your phone on the table also reduces the space available for the items you’ve ordered, especially on small tables. Wouldn’t your dining experience be much more comfortable, however, if you could just slip your phone inside one of these slots? Honestly, you could store anything in there.
Perfect for the avid readers we know
Even though you can now buy most books in both ebook and audio format, we can all agree that they just don’t have the charm a paperback or hardcover does. However, it can get a little distracting using your thumb to hold the page in place, especially for those books that have several hundred pages. With this small device, your reading experience will be a lot more comfortable. Not only do you get a soft grip for your thumb, but also a more comfortable way to hold your page in place. Not bad, right?
Every last, tiny drop of shampoo
We can all relate to the struggle of squeezing out those precious, last few drops out of shampoo, body wash and similar cosmetics. It’s amazing how much product goes to waste because folks aren’t able to use what’s remaining. One simple way to take care of this is storing their bottles upside down. However, that’s really difficult to do because they aren’t designed to be stored like that. That’s where this ingenious solution comes in. We feel like if more people knew about it, it would be a common fixture almost everywhere.
You can’t compete with Krispy Kreme
We absolutely love the way Krispy Kreme, the famous donut company, has designed their stands. As you can see, the stand is shaped like a donut box. We don’t know whether this is based on some sort of consumer psychology, but just looking at the delicious donuts is making it impossible for us not to order in some donuts right now. Honestly, this is pretty impressive and we wouldn’t be astonished if more companies started doing this. Imagine getting burgers from a stand that looks like a burger, for example.
Tulips, tulips and more tulips!
This floral design shows what an underrated discipline of design landscaping is. We’d love to know what inspired the designer to arrange the tulips together so they look like one, giant tulip. What’s more, it fits perfectly with all the greenery around it. Honestly, it’s just so pleasing to look at. If only we could hire the genius that came up with this brilliant idea for our gardens as well. It’s obvious they know exactly what they’re doing. Just imagine having a bird’s eye view of this garden!
Charge your phone while getting groceries
Even though many of today’s more advanced phones claim to last for several hours on end, anyone who owns them knows it’s never a good idea to go anywhere without a charger. Still, even the most organized people can forget their things, and that’s exactly why we love this. What’s more, you can shop for groceries without worrying about the fact that your phone is almost about to die. The only issue here would be if someone owned a phone that uses a different type of charging cord. Otherwise, we think this is perfect.
Why aren’t all alarm clocks like this?
This is one of those design innovations that seems so obvious once you see it, yet something you probably wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. By displaying the time on the side as well, people don’t have to get out of their bed or strain their necks to see what time it is. Even though it’s only a minor inconvenience, we feel like it would be hard to go back to alarm clocks that are designed in the conventional manner. Life would be so much better if every alarm clock was designed like this.
The most fun way to climb stairs
We’re not sure how functional this design is or whether it’s even safe, but we’re not going to lie, it’s pretty impressive! Even though it’s obviously designed for kids, we wouldn’t be astonished if teenagers and even some adults used the slide instead of climbing down the stairs. Just look at how huge that slide is — the child inside us is screaming to try it out. It’s so obvious why these stairs are much better designed because of the slides.
Tips on how to reheat your pizza
We don’t know how good their pizza is, but this business has won our hearts already because of how cool that information leaflet is. Even though you can simply search how to reheat pizza, most websites make the process sound much more complicated than it actually is. As this illustration shows, it’s actually not complicated at all. What’s more, it shows how much the business cares about its customers and how it wants to help them solve this everyday problem. We wonder how many people it helped figure out how to reheat pizza properly.
A secret compartment for the monitor
At first glance, you might be confused as to what exactly is so great about this desk. However, if you look closely, you’ll notice how there’s a special compartment for the monitors. This definitely makes it a lot more comfortable for any students using the computer. What’s more, the fact that the monitor can retreat inside that compartment means students can use all the space on the desk if they have their own devices. While we’re sure it’s expensive to implement, it’s definitely one of those things we’d love to see at more places.
A bench from the 30th century
If you love futuristic design, you’re absolutely going to love this bench. The designers modified the way a bench is typically designed and came up with this ingenious new model that provides a much more comfortable sitting experience to anyone. It even bends, meaning you can adjust it in a way that works best for you. We feel like this would be especially helpful for people who have back problems as well. Honestly, it looks like something right out of the 30th century. This is just a very, very cool piece of design.
Make your train ride more fun
Let’s face it: spending hours and hours on a train can be incredibly boring. If you’re one of those people that tend to automatically fall asleep because of the way the train moves, you probably know what we’re talking about. However, if train journeys are so boring for adults, just wonder what they do to kids. Kids are so restless in general, and we feel like this playing room would get overcrowded on any train to which it was added. We’re sure it would make their parents’ lives a whole lot easier as well.
Which basket would you pick?
Anyone who’s worked in retail knows how confusing working in customer service can be. Some people want a lot of attention, while others will scowl if you even look at them. What’s more, it can be just as confusing for customers. Naturally, everyone has different preferences, and that’s also the problem this supermarket was trying to solve here. The color of these baskets indicates whether their employees should approach you or not. While this is not a perfect system by any means, it’s a huge improvement to the way things are right now.
Streamline your hygiene routine
While we’re sure most of our readers would avoid public restrooms unless they absolutely had to, it’s something you just have to do when nature calls. While there have been lots of design modifications in recent years to make the experience slightly more hygienic and less germ-free, this one takes the cake for us. As you can see from the picture, the designer has streamlined the handwashing experience by keeping everything you need all in the same place. While it’s pretty cool, we feel like this would be problematic if there were huge lines.
Accessibility and beauty at the same time
Institutions that serve the public also have the responsibility to ensure that their buildings are accessible to everyone. After all, you can’t use their services if you can’t even step inside the buildings without great difficulty. However, while many attempts to improve accessibility do a great job in improving functionality, they often sacrifice visual aesthetics. That’s why we think this design is unique. It gets the job done and looks like a piece of art. Honestly, it looks like something more suited to a museum than a dull, old building.
No more chancing about with the weather
Even though you can tell what the weather is by looking at your smartphone, we all know just how often they prove to be really unreliable. Also, they’re often pretty much useless in cities where it rains a lot or where rapid weather change is a part of everyday life. This is an extremely common problem in Japan, and the solution this Japanese hotel has to it is really cool. This way, you know for sure whether you need an umbrella or not. No more relying on guesswork or worse, luck.
Giving history the treatment it deserves
While many of the monuments and other huge buildings from long-lost civilizations are at least partly intact and well-looked after, we feel like that doesn’t convey the full picture like this design. You really can’t appreciate the beauty of an old monument without also appreciating just how much of the original design is actually missing. That’s exactly why this design is our personal favorite. What’s more, it gives you a visual idea of what the monument was originally like so it’s easier to understand the history behind it.
A bench truly designed for everyone
Even though it’s obvious just how different kids’ and adults’ bodies are, it’s rarely something that’s at the forefront of every designer’s mind. When we saw this bench, we were amazed by it, because it really does look like the first bench ever that was truly designed for everyone. We feel like this makes it so much more comfortable for children as well. The only downside is that the bottom bench might get dirty if people rest their feet there or make their pets sit over there, though.
A better way to get coconut water
If you think what you see in the picture is just a soda bottle designed to look like a coconut, think again. It’s actually a coconut, but with a pull tab so you can easily crack open the coconut and enjoy it. Getting coconut water right from the source just got a whole lot easier with this design. What’s more, it looks really inexpensive to implement, meaning this additional convenience won’t make your coconuts any more expensive. What’s more, just cracking it open with the tab would feel really satisfying too!
USB port that glows in the dark
Even though we’ve all used USB ports thousands of times in our lives, it’s something that feels like a new experience every time you use it. We can all relate to the frustration of finding the right side to plug in our devices — especially when it’s dark. This designer, however, thought that life would be better with a USB port that glows in the dark. That’s what makes this design so unique, considering just how easier it makes the whole thing for anyone using it. It’s safer to use if you’re driving too.
Never waste a drop of water
Have you ever kept a tab on how much water you use everyday? While it’s nothing to be ashamed about, it’s definitely something that will make you much more appreciative of the role water plays in our lives. Not everyone has access to clean water, and reducing wastage is one way to solve this global problem. It’s also the problem this designer has addressed in this unique toilet and sink combo. The water drained from the sink goes to the toilet, significantly reducing wastage. Why aren’t we using plumbing like this by default already?