Why fire extinguishers are red

I was browsing Facebook and came across a designer fire extinguisher: Phoenix by Jalo Helsinki. It’s sleek, stylish and designed by Oiva Toikka, a Finnish designer famous for working with glass. It blends seamlessly into any designer kitchen. The question is, should a fire extinguisher blend into its surroundings? 

If I buy this fire extinguisher and put it in my kitchen next to the stove, I know it’s a fire extinguisher. But if I’m having a house party, and I’m in the toilet while one of my guests sets something on fire, would they know it’s a fire extinguisher?

One of Don Norman’s user-centered design principles is “making things visible“. The user should be able to know what something is and what you can do with it, just by looking. I’m not saying a fire extinguisher should look ugly and red, I’m saying it should look like a fire extinguisher.


P.S. Jalo Helsinki also makes other designer fire safety related products such as smoke alarms and fire blankets. They look great and I would be happy to have them in my house.

An ode to Apple’s MagSafe

The MagSafe wasn’t the best connector because it saved your expensive laptops from crashing display first to the office floor when that klutz, Pekka from accounting, stepped on the cord.

The MagSafe wasn’t the best connector because when you were late for the 7:45 AM bus to work, you ran out of the kitchen so fast, coffee in hand, that you tripped on the cord and didn’t fall flat on your face.

The MagSafe wasn’t the best connector because it would never snap and break inside your laptop, no matter how hard or at whichever awkward angle you pulled it.

The MagSafe was the best connector because it was fun. It was effortless. It gave you wonderful audible reassurance when you connected it: *klak* everything is OK again. It was that technological wizardry that only Apple can create. It was magical.

The new MacBook Pro is solid and better than ever, but I’m sad to see the MagSafe go.