Where Science Meets Muse

Want to Learn About Great Design? Look at a Bobby Pin

Posted by Plish on May 28, 2010

We often think of innovative and properly designed products as doing what they’re designed to do, well.

But, what is really great is when something does what it’s supposed to and so much more – when it leaves its meaning open to interpretation even though its purpose is well-known. 

Enter the Bobby Pin.

It’s original purpose is to hold hair in place.

It contributes to the experience of beauty without calling attention to itself. 

(Noble, simple, something we should all aspire to, right?)

Yet it’s simply a bent piece of metal.

It is used by experts and amateurs, women and men, movie  stars and regular folk.  Its uses span the spectrum from holding hair, picking locks, stealing cars,  and short circuiting aircraft landing gear,  to personal grooming, holding papers, being used as jewelry, as a screwdriver and more.

Yet, you don’t enter a store seeing flashing lights and arrows pointing to the aisle where the bobby pins are.  You have to look, and often look hard.  You may even have the experience as I did of asking someone if they had a bobby pin and her responding that she hadn’t seen one in years!

But they are around and during the course of a typical day a bobby pin has the potential to come to the rescue more often than an iPad.

Which gets me back to my original point.

I’m typing this on my laptop, an elegant piece of machinery, a wonderful tool that I can load with programs, and even configure some of those programs myself.  Yet, its inner workings are known only to the engineers and designers who developed it.  I can do very little to make this laptop be more than a computer.

But, for pure creative potential, for engaging the sense of touch, for prototyping and playing, for simple elegance and even cost effectiveness, the bobby pin is much more than a bobby pin.

**For another interesting perspective on bobby pins, check this out.**


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