Have you noticed that there are some very simple devices that work quite well but that should somehow be better. For example my sail boat Southern Cross has several cleats that are used to fasten dock lines and ropes for various purposes. There are some pretty fundamental design problems with the standard design of a central hub with two horizontal horns that sweep slightly up at each end.
One clear problem is that of safety. Not only are these cleats a tripping hazard, but also a place were you can snag anything that passes nearby. One design modification is to have the central hub arranged so that the hub and horns fold flat to the deck when not in use. This is not so simple to implement because it requires a prepared pocket, or suitable hole for the whole assembly to fit into.
The point that this post is making, is that sometimes a simple design, for a fundamentally simple task is often easy to envision, but when the needs start to take into account other aspects of the effects that design may impose when not in use, or for events that may happen because of the design’s existence, the the process is not so simple any more. In fact, some requirements of the fundamental requirement, and other requirements, such as safety, may be somewhat exclusive. A virtual catch 22. This is where the industrial designer earns the right to be considered a professional. An industrial designer has to take competing and conflicting aspects of a design into consideration when designing a product. And in today’s environment, safety and liability for the manufacture have to rank high on the designer’s agenda for things that must be addressed when coming up with a design that remains at its core, simple.