You, I, Design

A beautiful love triangle (2018)

Michael Pillay
4 min readSep 3, 2019


The digitisation of the world is, further and further opening doors for designers. Previously mechanical displays are evolving to digital ones, and these digital displays are becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives.

What we now know as the ‘user interface’ is currently transcending the computer and cellphone; extending to any digital surface or informative space as technologically grows more relevant in our lives.

Tell me more!

BMW’s park distance control HUD shows a 3D model of your car and hotspots of object proximity.

Appliances and cars, for example, are being designed to seamlessly integrate heads-up displays to convey information to users. As tech progresses - becoming more affordable to develop & implement at scale, appliances and cars will become one with digital applications and the internet.

On that note — of the biggest milestones in human technology — the automobile is undergoing a level-up. The car industry (one that I’m especially in tune with) is outgrowing mechanism in favour of electricity, and thus allows us to reduce instrumentation and gauges necessary to understand a complex system of machinery; to a consolidated, digital user interface.

If I’ve lost you there, an example more close to home is the microwave — which has gone from dials & switches, to touch-sensitive buttons and will soon be paired with touch screens.

So where do we fit in?

Simply put, electricity and battery powered systems present an interface that needs ensuring an intuitive user experience. And intuitive user experiences need good designers.

But let’s rethink “Design”

S-Class’ mighty 24.6" display

Digitisation is here to stay because it allows a more efficient manufacture process and a simpler user/product experience. Expect automation and voice activation to become more real in the near future as well. Assistants like Siri, Alexa and the mighty Goog prove that the ‘user interface’ concept transcends the visual, and as an example of the aforementioned collaboration between our everyday machines and digital UX; consider the now common Car Assistants; which could dial up a contact, drop your favourite tune or direct you to your closest McDonalds as soon as you say “Hey Mercedes”.

Now is the time that the “UX” specialisation of “Design” will further granulate for the many experiences that we’ll have the ability to curate in order to amplify the intended emotion and persona of a brand, through electronic means.

Another example of this new stage of designed experiences comes from Japanese Giant,Nissan. The brand synonymous (to petrol heads) with driver engagement, looks to innovate in the smart car space — in a way unique to everyone else. Being true to the bond between man and machine, Nissan is developing its Brain to Vehicle technology. The concept banishes autonomous bore in favour of a system that reads brain impulses to enhance driving experience and tailor the autonomous vehicle’s ever learning behaviour to the specific driver’s expectations and driving habits.

Simplify pls

Heinz recently made a global packaging change, much to the delight of tomatoes everywhere.

In the greater scheme of things, it’s an excellent example of designing a unique user experience that your specific customer is yearning for.

Just make ’em smile

Renault’s quirky infotainment angle

In a less complex, just as interesting effort; Nissan’s sister company, Renault introduced a whimsical aural augmentation in their Clio RS. The feature allows the driver to select an engine sound from a catalogue of significant models in the company’s storied history. Once selected, the system intelligently feeds that car’s engine sound through the stereo while rev-matching your actual driving, thus adding a gamified element to the automotive experience.

So you like cars, but what are you trying to tell me?

We now live in a world where all ideas are plausible. It’s up to us who direct the user to interacting with the character and personality of the brands that we’re representing.

Tailor-making products for existing people is the key. People who share our brand values will allow us to become part of their lives. Rather than offering something to someone who may be interested, let’s build a platform that supports and augments these people’s passion.