Tag Archives: design

How to attract attention of pedestrians?

How could we make passing pedestrians stop and look at something? One solution is to apply technology. For instance, tactile pavings or tactile ground surface indicators tell them when to cross roads.

Another solution is to apply design. While I stayed in Curitiba, Brazil, fire extinguishers always attract my attention successfully. This is because they are located inside red-yellow squares painted on the ground.

Interestingly, the same rule applies when fire extinguishers are above the ground. Red-yellow squares are painted on the ground when fire extinguishers are hung on the wall.

Design beats technology in Curitiba. 🙂

Labrecque, L. I., & Milne, G. R. (2012). Exciting red and competent blue: the importance of color in marketing. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science40(5), 711-727.

From beverages to consumer electronics, marketers are using color in innovative ways. Despite this, little academic research has investigated the role that color plays in marketing. This paper examines how color affects consumer perceptions through a series of four studies. The authors provide a framework and empirical evidence that draws on research in aesthetics, color psychology, and associative learning to map hues onto brand personality dimensions (Study 1), as well as examine the roles of saturation and value for amplifying brand personality traits (Study 2). The authors also demonstrate how marketers can strategically use color to alter brand personality and purchase intent (Study 3), and how color influences the likability and familiarity of a brand (Study 4). The results underscore the importance of recognizing the impact of color in forming consumer brand perceptions.

Color marries between buttons and bulbs

We often write down something on the surface. For instance, a window says “this is a window” or a pedestrian crossing says “Look Right.” However, written, verbal information is easy to be ignored. Compared to verbal information, visual information attracts attention better.

When I visited the design department at the University of Sao Paulo, one of the best universities in Brazil, I found a clever and clear, visual information in a classroom. The wide classroom has four lines of bulbs on the ceiling from the front row to the back end. Although there are four bulb buttons on the wall, the way buttons are placed does not align with the way bulbs are on the ceiling. Instead of writing down “the first row, … the last row,” they match buttons and bulbs through color.

Lurie, N. H., & Mason, C. H. (2007). Visual Representation: Implications for Decision Making. Journal of Marketing, 71(1), 160–177.

A large number of visualization tools have been created to help decision makers understand increasingly rich databases of product, customer, sales force, and other types of marketing information. This article presents a framework for thinking about how visual representations are likely to affect the decision processes or tasks that marketing managers and consumers commonly face, particularly those that involve the analysis or synthesis of substantial amounts of data. From this framework, the authors derive a set of testable propositions that serve as an agenda for further research. Although visual representations are likely to improve marketing manager efficiency, offer new insights, and increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, they may also bias decisions by focusing attention on a limited set of alternatives, increasing the salience and evaluability of less diagnostic information, and encouraging inaccurate comparisons. Given this, marketing managers are advised to subject insights from visual representations to more formal analysis.

Curitiba has a sophisticated taste of design

I had a business trip to Brazil and Argentina with others. We gave lectures, ran workshops, participated in walk-in tours, and made new friends.

I was impressed by the airport in Curitiba, Brazil. When our plan touched down, I noticed a fire extinguisher and two public phones were attached on a grey wall. At first, they looked like desktop icons. Then, I found that a red-and-yellow square box was painted under the fire extinguisher and a phone was placed lower than the other.

I also found that Curitiba uses color to educate and nudge people to recycle trash. Trash cans in public spaces were divided into multiple sections with different colors. Someone in this city seemed to use color, shape, height and arrangement very carefully not for embellishment but for communication.

Crilly, N., Moultrie, J., & Clarkson, P. J. (2004). Seeing things: Consumer response to the visual domain in product design. Design Studies, 25(6), 547–577.

This paper discusses consumer response to product visual form within the context of an integrated conceptual framework. Emphasis is placed on the aesthetic, semantic and symbolic aspects of cognitive response to design. The accompanying affective and behavioural responses are also discussed and the interaction between cognitive and affective response is considered. All aspects of response are presented as the final stage in a process of communication between the design team and the consumer. The role of external visual references is examined and the effects of moderating influences at each stage in the process of communication are discussed. In particular, the personal, situational and cultural factors that moderate response are considered. In concluding the paper, implications for design practice and design research are presented.

Why do we doodle?

According to Wikipedia, doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be composed of random and abstract lines. However, all doodles are not same. Some doodles are hedonic and others are utilitarian.

Hedonic doodles are personal. They are drawings about interpretation of subjective experience, mostly for fun. For instance, I doodled below to remember what I enjoyed while I stayed in Shenzhen, China. I used Mobike, drank HeyTea and wine, took a BYD electronic taxi, visited Macau by ferry, and ate beef, crab, sea food, and noodle each in different places. Its road was wide and a hot water dispenser was interesting to me.

Different from hedonic doodles, utilitarian doodles are not personal but have practical purposes. They are drawings about objective information, mostly for effective communications with others. For instance, I drew the facet, the shower head, the top bowl, and the shower booth in my bathroom with their sizes and heights when I wanted to replace them with new ones.

I liked doodling, but I felt intimidated by doodling as well. However, when I made it clear what was the purpose of doodling, I enjoyed more and became less intimidated by the visual activity. Probably, I am not the only one who has a mixed feeling about doodling. Who knows if I keep doodling now and draw a professional graffiti like the one I met in Sao Paulo, Brazil? 🙂


Hirschman, E. C., & Holbrook, M. B. (1982). Hedonic Consumption: Emerging Concepts, Methods and Propositions. Journal of Marketing, 46(3), 92–101.
Babin, B. J., Darden, W. R., & Griffin, M. (1994). Work and/or fun: Shopping measuring Value Hedonic and Utilitarian. Journal of Consumer Research, 20(4), 644–656.
Dhar, R., & Wertenbroch, K. (2000). Consumer Choice between Hedonic and Utilitarian Goods. Journal of Marketing Research, 37(1), 60–71.
Voss, K. E., Spangenberg, E. R., & Grohmann, B. (2003). Measuring the Hedonic and Utilitarian Dimensions of Consumer Attitude. Journal of Marketing Research, 40(3), 310–320.
Scarpi, D. (2012). Work and Fun on the Internet: The Effects of Utilitarianism and Hedonism Online. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(1), 53–67.

Babin, B.J., Darden, W.R. and Griffin, M. (1994) Work and/or Fun: Measuring Hedonic and Utilitarian Shopping Value. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 644-656.

Consumer researchers’ growing interest in consumer experiences has revealed that many consumption activities produce both hedonic and utilitarian outcomes. Thus, there is an increasing need for scales to assess consumer perceptions of both hedonic and utilitarian values. This article describes the development of a scale measuring both values obtained from the pervasive consumption experience of shopping. The authors develop and validate the scale using a multistep process. The results demonstrate that distinct hedonic and utilitarian shopping value dimensions exist and are related to a number of important consumption variables. Implications for further applications of the scale are discussed

Do we need floor signage?

We now see a wide variety of floor signage. In Singapore, there is a yellow-painted footstep on the right side of the paved road at the Marina Bay. Since this road is crowded by runners, this signage probably helps them run on the right side of the road.



In Shenzhen, China, there are orange-colored lines at the subway stations. Since many people are in a hurry, these lines help them not to rush forward when the train is coming, and wait for the next train if they cannot get on.



Although floor signage is visually salient, I wonder whether this is needed to change our behavior, because we learn rules naturally. We learn how to avoid bumping into other runners when running on a narrow road and we also learn how to navigate a huge crowd to get on a train. Although I am a strong supporter of behavior economics and nudge, I believe some nudges interfere with learning. Not surprisingly, some people argue that behavioral economics are not always as effective as thought (Why nudges hardly help)(The dark side of nudging). We need to study more about which specific nudges are ineffective and how we can modify these nudges.


People do not prefer crowded restaurants over empty ones

About 36 million people live in Tokyo and its neighboring cities. Most restaurants well known to foreigners are heavily crowded. Therefore, when I dine out in Tokyo, I have to wait for a table for a decent amount of time. The fact that many local people are waiting for their tables relieves my concern that I might have chosen a wrong restaurant. Although crowdedness plays a role as social proof when I “choose” a restaurant, I think I may enjoy dish more if I have a breathing room or enough empty space inside when I “experience” a restaurant.



My thought was supported when I had a lunch at a restaurant run by D&Department in Tokyo. D&Department project is a store-style activist proposed by Nagaoka Kenmei, a Japanese designer, in 2000, with a theme of a “long-life design.” It introduces design products for our daily lives such as eating, drinking, publishing and traveling. It aims to spread all over the country the products excavated in local regions. Therefore, the design products introduced by D&Department are the durable items that should be used for a long time and regional items that each specific region of Japan uniquely identifies. Therefore, serving local, authentic dish at a restaurant made sense to me.

Going beyond design items and local dish, this restaurant provided sufficient empty space to each guest, which was rare in Tokyo. This restaurant limited the number of guests entering the space. Therefore, people focused on their own dish inside while a huge crowd of people waited for their tables outside. This space was quiet and well organized and guests were not visually distracted.



Do we like crowdedness or emptiness at restaurants? Marketing scientists have studied this issue. Some argue that crowdedness plays a role as a social proof while others argue that emptiness signals social class. We may like crowdedness when buying mass products or visiting casual restaurants, whereas we pursue emptiness when searching for luxury goods or dining out at Michelin starred restaurants.


Thomas Clayton O’Guinn, Robin J. Tanner, Ahreum Maeng; Turning to Space: Social Density, Social Class, and the Value of Things in Stores, Journal of Consumer Research, Volume 42, Issue 2, 1 August 2015, Pages 196–213, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv010

Abstract: This article is about social space and material objects for sale within that space. We draw primarily on Goffman’s (1971) concepts of use space and possession territories to predict that as the social density of a given space increases, inferences of the subjective social class and income of people in that space fall. Eight studies confirm that this is indeed the case, with the result holding even for stick figures, thus controlling for typical visual indicators of social class such as clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, these social class inferences mediate a relationship between social density and product valuation, with individuals assessing both higher prices and a greater willingness to pay for products presented in less crowded contexts. This effect of inferred class on product valuation is explained by status-motivated individuals’ desire to associate with higher-status people. To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first to reveal the link between social density, status inferences, and object valuations. As such, it makes a novel contribution to what has come to be known in sociology as the topological turn: a renewed focus on social space.



Cow shaped cheese board

About 6,700 cheese boards and cutting boards sell on the Amazon.com. Their prices vary between $5 and $370. Majority of them are rectanglular. However, not a few boards interesting shapes. At one of my favorite Canadian stores, West elm, I found a cow-shaped mini cheese board and cutting board. Its price was $22.



I bought this board mainly because it looked interesting to me. However, a board designer cut a significant portion of it to make it look like a cow, it was not useful to cut vegetables and fruits but ok for serving cheese. This is a typical situation that marketing researchers often study: a trade-off relationship between aesthetic appeal and practical utility. Does this trade-off work? Unfortunately, I do not know whether adding design flavor attracts other consumers or helps makers charge more. However, it successfully attracted at least one person who had virtually no interest in boards before. Probably, this funny-looking board will remind me of a Canadian store and bring much to share with my guests.



Yido, a modern Korean pottery

Yido is one of the most widely-known premium pottery brands in Korea. It was found by Yi, Yoonshin, a ceramic artist. As introduced in her website, her work “reinterprets traditional Korean ceramics in refined contemporary design.” However, visiting Yido’s flagship store taught me a few “marketing” lessons how she has successfully established herself in the market.

First, she listens to market. Recently, Yido launches a new collection called Cera/Mano. Differently from other collections which has four pieces of each bowl/dish for a family of four, this newly launched collection has only one piece of each item for a single house owner.



Second, she looks more than product. In the four-story flagship store, only one store is used to sell ceramic-wares. In the other stores, a Italian restaurant, a brunch cafe, a ceramic academy, and a art and living store run.

I wish other ceramic designers also learn these marketing lessons so that they become market-savvy designers.

Siwa, paper design by Naoto Fukasawa

People have their own favorite designers. My favorite “product” designer is Naoto Fukasawa. He is well known for the designer of the fan-shaped CD player by Muji. I love his minimalist design so much that I flew for his Tokyo studio, Plus Minus Zero, to consider buying a humidifier for the stimulus of my experimental studies. Interestingly, he once worked with Samsung to design its printer.

Johnny @ Spoon & Tamago


Recently, I found his name on an unexpected place. I visited a small store called studio M nearby my house. It sells his paper (or seemingly half-paper-half-leather) products named SIWA. Soon I realized that his design philosophy seems to match low-tech products (e.g., pencil cases and hand bags) more successfully than electronic gadgets (e.g., CD players, humidifiers, and printers), differently from Dieter Rams. “Some” Minimalist design principles may work better for “some” materials or “some” products. 🙂

DML_Naoto Fukasawa 02

DML_Naoto Fukasawa 01