Designed for a purpose

On one day this week, spend 30 minutes on your way to work, at the gym or in a restaurant, taking care to observe, and note in a sketchpad, everything that you think has been designed for a purpose, without which the journey, gym or restaurant experience would be more difficult, or less pleasant. Has anything been designed for one purpose but harnessed for another?


Since I’m still on holiday, I considered the area I’m in at the moment. Vevey is located on Lac Leman in the southern part of Switzerland. It is home to Nestlé, where about 6,000 of its employees work in a beautiful building on the lake.

When we’re here in the summer we often come down to the lake to picnic in the park and s to take out the paddle boats or swim in the lake, and in the evenings I notice the employees coming out of the office and decided to document the ‘design’ experience of their commute home or to have fun next to the lake after work.

Commuting options:

Straight outside the office complex their is a funicular which takes one up the hill into the Lavaux where one can hike or walk or bike for hours.  There is also a “freecycle” stand with bicycles that can be taken and used and returned at another spot. The trolley bus line passes by which links to the train station with 2 trains per hour with a commute of 1 hour to Geneva (the closest big airport), or 30 minutes to Lausanne.

There is also a lovely pedestrian promenade along the lake which is extremely well maintained with lovely flowers.

A great design “nudge” was the display in the bus which said (translated from French) “90% of your fellow passengers have paid their fare”.   In addition, during the Montreux Jazz festival (which has just finished), the bus has extended hours and provides free trips to Montreux to prevent the use of passenger cars with the resulting congestion and parking problems.

Vevey promenade
Images: Nadine Bailey, Map – Vevey Tourist office

Recreation options:

It seems like many people leave work on time (around 5pm) and since it’s still light until about 9.30pm they’ll stop by the park and bathing areas and meet their partners and children there and have a picnic dinner or BBQ on small portable stands. The whole area transforms into a space of families after 5pm.  The best form of design “repurposing” are the fountains.  Unlike in most parts of the world where putting body parts into the decorative fountains is strictly prohibited, here it seems to be encouraged, and all 3 of the fountains are repurposed as bathing areas for the little ones for whom the lake would be too cold or too deep (see images 1-3 above).

When I walked past on Tuesday, the local library had brought along their van with a pop-up library with books for kids in a cute little trolley and chairs to curl up into – and of course a friendly librarian to help with your choice.

IMG_0623 IMG_0624
IMG_0626 IMG_0625

Images: Nadine Bailey

The community also provides free wifi – albeit at not a very fast bandwidth.


The whole area is surrounded by beauty both in nature, but also in the man-made and maintained flowerbeds and the placement of sculpture – including the wonderful kinetic sculptures of Charles Morgan, who is a local inhabitant.

In conclusion, this environment definitely reflects the words of Tim Brown in his TED talk in that it makes life easier, more enjoyable with an understanding of culture and context and where a focus on the systems (such as public transport) have a bigger impact on the society as a whole.

One thought on “Designed for a purpose

  1. The pop-up library is great and has certainly been designed for the purpose of enjoying reading in the outdoors on such a lovely day.


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