A bad workman always blames his tools, but what if the tools are not designed for him…

Like most lefthanders would tell you, the world has not been designed for them, I too had a lot of difficulties adjusting to normal daily objects. So much so that I was branded as a dyslexic .  Using them was one thing shifting from one to the other was not as seamless as one could imagine. And choosing a better looking object compared to another came naturally to me just as anybody else.

I have a confession to make. I am a bad workman as I always blame my tools. But, what if the tool has not been designed for me ?

While writing on a piece of paper, it always bothered me that the marketing team of this pen I was using had not taken into consideration that a lefthander be reminded of the fine pen he was using at all times. The written content on the pen was always upside down for me. Making tea was another challenge as the spout was strategically placed in order to have an anticlockwise wrist movement. Bathroom fixtures, screwdrivers, nut and bolt configurations etc were all designed in such a way that a person (right hander ) would instantly know which direction to turn the driver in, in order to tighten or loosen it. Yes, I became the bad workman who kept blaming his tools. They were simple designs, very well thought solutions, but to a lefthander like me, they seemed complex and at times poorly designed. So, was I a bad workman or, was the tool not designed well ?

The new trend which John Maeda points out in his TED presentation, where machines are considered smarter than us and we ( the makers of these machines ) are the dummies who need to read a 800 page  book ( which still at the end does not tell if I am smarter than before) filled with inspiration to master the tool, struck me.  Why are we so bogged down by the technology around us  ?  Looking at evolutionary and revolutionary designs, what must guide what ? Should technology guide design or should design guide technology ? Or am I just a bad workman ?

A discussion would help.


5 Responses to A bad workman always blames his tools, but what if the tools are not designed for him…

  1. Outreyo says:

    i think apple does a great job when it comes to usability..

    no reading required 😀 products feel so natural to use.

    left handed .. right handed dont matter 🙂

  2. Outreyo says:


    lots of scientists believe that using ones right hand when one is left handed and vice versa is actually a great exercise to improve ones brain function ^^

    i wonder how practical that is though..

  3. dinudey says:

    I am a right handed so I really can’t tell what difficulties left handed face while doing day to day activities, but I have seen people getting frowned upon because they use their left hand like exchanging money with left hand or shaking hands.

    In most of the cultures left is considered to be a deviation. I remember when one of my childhood friend was lefty and his parent made him write handed through saam-daam-dand-bhed because in Indian culture left hand is to do bad deed. Now when I think of it, how difficult and painful it must be for him since it does not comes to him naturally. The time he spent on changing his instincts he could have done something more constructive. I think musical instrument is the first field in which humans have started considering left handed people while making them.
    In my opinion till society do not accept left handed people it is difficult to design for both set of people. The close analogy I can give of homosexuality, it is considered to be deviation in most of the cultures and civilizations, the constitution was not designed for them it was rather opposite of the whole thing. But due to acceptance of the fact that its not deviation but natural phenomenon things have changed, in USA and other countries where gays are accepted they became the target market of big companies.

    In the same way the whole stigma related to left handed people has to be removed. Designers work in conjunction with other set of people who influence the design. It is necessary for them and society to acknowledge the fact that there is need to design things universally

  4. ZAREMA says:

    Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit. http://odessacity.net/

  5. gualetar says:

    The subject is fully clear but why does the text lack clarity? But in general your blog is great.

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