Overcomplicated Ovens & Productive Powder Rooms - Design Bureau


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Overcomplicated Ovens & Productive Powder Rooms

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Baffled by some of your kitchen appliances? How about your toilet? Certified Ergonomist Dr. Rob Tannen offers up some insight

Q: Why have ovens become complicated with so many buttons? It's difficult just to set a simple timer. 

A: Call it feature creep or information overload, there's no denying that cooking appliances have become very complex. A growing number have even integrated touch screens and wireless features. Since most ovens essentially provide the same fundamental function, such as heating the air, differentiating makes and models come down to factors such as styling and interface design. Unfortunately, most appliance companies are not very experienced when it comes to designing usable interfaces. Combine this with the marketing-driven push to add arguably useful functions like "pizza mode" and you wind up having to set a $10 egg timer alongside your $4,000 oven. 

Q: I've heard that sitting on the porcelain throne is not the most ergonomic way to answer nature's call. It's been said that we should squat like our ancestors did-is there any truth to this?

A: As any backwoods camper (and more than a billion people around the world) can testify, squatting is nature's preferred method for taking care of business. In the 19th century, the introduction of indoor plumbing and the seated flush toilet changed this for many people. IT has been argued that sitting puts the body in an unnatural and strained positon, leading to conditions ranging from constipation and hemorrhoids to colon cancer. You can actually purchase a platform for your toilet that lets you squat over it, but this trades off the potential ergonomic benefits of squatting with the challenge of climbing on and off the platform. I consider this a wash. 

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