This Ted talk by Tony Fadell, a product designer at Apple emphasizes on the fact that any process of actually designing something starts when we ask a question on how things could be made better than it already is. or if anything could be made better at all. 

He believes in the idea of creating an opportunity for ourselves to rectify a problem that might not be noticeable in our mundane lives but is very important to identify for a better quality of life. He believes the process will start with the simple act of NOTICING.

TedTalk for Architects: The first secret of great design by Tony Fadell Sheet1
Ted ex talk by Tony Fadell_©Dailymotion

Curiosity the Mother of Innovative Design? 

Design and the process of it usually stem from a curious and intrusive attitude, how we perceive things around us, and how well we could identify a certain issue around us and come up with a better solution, an idea that could make mundane lives easier and a way to improve the quality of life is it in any aspect. As people, we tend to travel to different places, tend to feel awe by a certain scenery, we appreciate a little architecture, we marvel at nature and everything a place has to offer. 

What differentiates us, architects and designers are that we don’t only see but we notice the small things around us, get inspired by not only the architectural marvels or the scenic beauty of a particular place; but also, we take notice of little things, of the colors and the scent, of the lifestyle and very many things that could easily go unnoticed. 

Maybe this is what architecture teaches us without actually being a subject, the art of noticing the good, the bad, the narratives, and the deceased.

TedTalk for Architects: The first secret of great design by Tony Fadell Sheet2
Tony Fadell-Start with one great product_©httpsachievement.orgachievertony-fadell

The Psychology Of Habitation | Tony Fadell

As architects and designers, we need to start taking notice of every little even mundane thing around us and when we do so, it just becomes a force of habit, what started as a conscious effort to do so. This is very well explained with an example of tiny stickers on the fruit that we buy every day, how removing those stickers before consuming is another mundane act that we barely even take notice of, after a long period of consciously having to remind yourself to get rid of the sticker on the fruit-Habituation.

Habituation – it helps our brain to take notice and adapt to the small things without it getting in the way of us learning and noticing new things as we go. But, how this could also sometimes if not paid heed to can result in minute patterns and mistakes going unnoticed without resolving them on a day-to-day basis, which in terms of architecture could cause major setbacks. As architects and designers, it is not only our job to take notice of things but also to try and fix them, to not only see the world as it is but to see the world as we want it to be.

The Art of taking Notice

TedTalk for Architects: The first secret of great design by Tony Fadell Sheet3
Tony Fadell, Founder and CEO, Nest Labs._©httpsachievement.orgachievertony-fadell

This ted talk throws light on how it is difficult to solve a problem that almost nobody sees. Noticing the invisible and not the obvious problem to be able to fix it and make life easier for the users is our responsibility as designers. 

According to Tony Fadell, a simple way to go about it is to have a clear palette every day of our livesthe art of being able to notice somethingit is very important to have a new perspective. If you are looking at the world for the very first time, by questioning everything as we go, we don’t get used to something and we are always wondering about the hows and whys. Why is something the way it is, why can’t we look at it differently, how can it be made better? 

The art of looking is understanding the broader picture and coming up with the solution as a whole. The more we are exposed to something the more we get used to it. So, if we want to change something and come up with a better version of the product to make life easier—it is where the art of unlearning comes in handy.

Problem solved in 1, 2 & 3 Steps | Tony Fadell

As Picasso once said: “Every child is an artist.” How young minds see the world clearly before life gets in the way. It’s about unlearning – seeing more clearly – experiencing the world for the first time. 

And onto the problem-solving part of it and to overcome the habituation that causes us to oversee everyday problems, Fadell believes just doing these three things could be of help. He goes on to explain:

  1. Looking at the broader picture: A broader perspective, questioning how and why it came into existence, therefore, understanding the process.
  2. Looking closer: once the problem is identified to sort of decipher the problems and come up with better solutions. 
  3. Experiencing the world: Experiencing with a young mind helps us look at the world from a fresher perspective.

This ted talk explains very well how as a culture, the most commonly given explanation or an answer is how it has always just been this way. We accept the products and the process in any walk of life without actually questioning how it came into being, which in turn causes us to just accept that the current reality is just a natural way of being. How even when we are confronted with something new and we notice something we don’t understand, we just accept the way it is and we don’t question it. We don’t try to come up with a solution. 

If nobody ever noticed why some things are the way they are or did not try to change them or come up with solutions: then this world would be a much more difficult place to live in. This talk makes you ponder that without all the questioning and innovations. For example, I wouldn’t be here typing on this laptop on this particular talk while sitting comfortably on a sofa with armrests. Indeed, this is a solution that only occurred to someone because of critical thinking and the ability to come up with a solution. 

This ted talk explains very well, how to confront the norms and what we could do as designers to overcome the current natural state of being and contribute to the much better, ever-evolving ways of the world.


Darsan Babu, an architect, dreamer and a storyteller who loves to take on challenges and reform perspectives on some days, but sit by the mountain and quote words of Howard Roark on others. Would love to explore all things architecture, educate and shape the Urbanscape soon enough.