[“tampon chandelier” courtesy of joana vasconcelos]
The Professor met someone in Boise, Idaho who once reported that his Mom regularly used a Tampax® box to hide her best jewels and valuables whenever her family left on vacation. She reckoned that opening the box would be the very last, least likely thing a male thief would do. Common sense suggests to The Professor that she was most probably correct. Here in the post-industrial, post-credible world that The Professor lives in, this sort of phenomenon is cause for both closer examination and for clue hunting [not to be confused with “cool-hunting” of which The Professor holds no truck]. Note the high degree of creativity involved in the woman choosing to utilize the box in a way that it was never intended to be used. She created a secure installation for her jewelry by using the time-proven tactic of hiding things in plain sight. Cardboard armor was more than sufficient for her precisely because she astutely cracked the code of thieves everywhere. The use of the box was psychological, novel, and appropriate [in a way that new product design often is not]. Although her home was never broken into [and thus remained untested in the hard light of an actual B&E], she was proactively protected from loss by out-thinking her potential adversaries. And not by throwing money at the problem. Not by adding defensive materials to the house. And not by building a basement vault or renting a safe-deposit box at the local bank. She did it, consciously or unconsciously, by way of design thinking. She used a creative thought process to come up with an unexpected and anticipatory solution. Even a mere modicum of clue-hunting, therefore, suggests that there is something here for designers to learn from, something important about the contemporary nature of cultural security, about how what is precious is best protected, and about how non-designers regularly offer up design clues that signal what they wish actual designers already did—and that’s why they call me The Professor.