Countless products promise to improve our lives by making them easier. (Think laptops, Boa closures, child leashes.) But a new class of industrial designers want to achieve that end by making things harder. That’s why Berlin-based Weng Xinyu, 28, created a lamp that switches on only when you slot your phone into the base, derailing sleep-disrupting late-night screen time.
Another example: sitting is bad for you, even if you’re using an ergonomic office chair. So Benoît Malta, a 25-year-old French industrial designer, created a seat that has only two legs, forcing you to engage your core to stay upright while you sit.
And because driving to work doesn’t make you (or the planet) nearly as happy as riding a bike, 32-year-old Matthias Laschke, a German industrial designer, devised a wall-mounted rack with spots for two keys—one for your car and one for your bike lock. Grab the car key and it drops the other one at your feet—a not-so-subtle suggestion that you reconsider your mode of transportation.
“You don’t need extra brainpower to know that using the bike is better for you physically,” says Laschke. “It’s about creating enough friction so that you’re confronted with this decision every morning.”