Self-closing drawers gone wrong

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From cars to cabinets, design decisions sometimes baffle me. I often wonder what the heck they were thinking, and just who they were trying to please.

Design decisions are made for countless reasons – efficiency, performance, appearance, color considerations, style popularity, hardware function, etc. But the bottom line in every design that trumps all other considerations is assuming that it’s something the customer wants and will like. Somewhere along the line, someone who makes the final decision when it comes to design will say, “Yeah, they’re gonna love this.”

One of these days I’m going to get to meet that guy. When I do, I’m going to slap him senseless.

My folks had new kitchen cabinets installed just a couple years ago. They’re your average, good-looking oak cabinets, nicely made and expertly installed. But the drawers, which close automatically, are maddening. I understand the utility of drawer slides that automatically close in the last inch or two – this ensures there won’t be any slightly open drawers, and keeps the drawers closed when bumped. Great idea. I have drawers like these, and like them.

But my folks’ drawers close over their entire open length. So, what’s the problem, you ask? Well, nothing, as long as you always have two free hands: one to reach in to get or replace whatever items are in there, and the other to keep the darned thing open while you’re doing it.

If you’re holding something in one hand, or maybe one hand has stuff on it from dinner preparation, and you open a drawer to get something, you have to let go of the drawer and reach in and snatch before the drawer slams shut. It’s much like grabbing the cheese off a mousetrap and getting your hand out of the way before losing a finger. Putting silverware away one at a time is impossible – you have all the silverware in one hand, while you sort it into the drawer with the other. To do that at my folks’ house, you need a second person to hold the drawer.

Why or how would any designer think that’s a useful thing?

A.J.

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