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Siobhan Kennedy

Siobhan Kennedy

Design Director

Design Inspiration In Everyday Objects

Design inspiration is often sought in the latest and greatest design examples floating around the web and in the slick pages of design magazines. But sometimes the items that are part of our everyday, the ones that enhance our daily tasks, are the items that can provide inspiration and bring our focus back to who and what we’re designing for.

Appreciation turns to inspiration

Along with the millions of other commuters in Toronto, Canada, I travel to and from work on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) each day and for various reasons my payment method of choice is the token. After years of hurriedly digging through my coin purse to find a tiny token (which tends to deek and hide among the similarly sized dimes) in the rush to get on the streetcar, I’ve found a sense of calm and appreciation with the acquisition of a simple gadget – the Rocket Wheel.

The Rocket Wheel (named after the commonly used nickname for the TTC, the “Red Rocket” is a plastic token holder created by Spacing Magazine in 2012 as a promotional product. It’s a simple rounded pentagon that holds 10 tokens. Only 1,500 units were made so those who were able to snatch one up are holding on tightly.

Here are some reasons why the Rocket Wheel offers design inspiration:

  •  It’s tactile. The shape and size fit perfectly in the palm of the hand, and the smooth rounded edges make it comfortable to hold.
  •  It’s intuitive. Each token sits on a little spring so you simply need to push down on a token to allow it to slide out. It only takes a quick moment to understand this interaction the first time. No instructions required.
  • I’m not embarrassed to use it. Visual design doesn’t always need to incite the “wow” factor. The beauty of the Rocket Wheel is in it’s simplicity. It’s not covered in design flourishes or flashy graphics to make it seem cutting edge.
  • It makes sense. Five tokens on each side makes this perfect for the average commuter travelling to and from their destination five days a week. Visually, you can glance at the wheel and know you have ten tokens without needing to count.

Don’t reinvent the wheel (no pun intended)

Content and context play a big role in the success of a design. Specifically in website and intranet design, we designers often rely on placeholder content to work out our layout and design but it’s important to give good and careful consideration to the real content that will eventually fill the pages. Look at your design in progress and ask yourself questions like, ‘Will this headline type style suit longer headlines?’ and ‘Will this image area be difficult to use (if it’s an abnormal shape, your client may have trouble sourcing suitable photography)?’ Whenever there is existing content, place it in the design to reveal any potential problems that may arise.

So what are some everyday objects that enhance your daily routine? Does good design play a role in their success?

Siobhan Kennedy

Siobhan Kennedy

Design Director

Siobhan is a passionate advocate for clean, effective designs that speak clearly and with gusto. Through the Akendi blog, Siobhan shares inspirations, tips, and resources for developing clean, harmonious design systems that are a joy to use.


So my favorite object that I enjoy every day is build into my jacket, it’s the top pocket close to the zipper that allows me to have my phone handy, keep my lower pockets empty and be close to my body so I can feel the buzzing when someone calls me on the street and I can’t hear the ringer. I realize how well it works every now and then! smaller things cause big happiness.


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.