Our Handle

Today I had the job of fixing a lock to the inside of a bathroom door. It was a rather simple job, four screws through a metal piece, but it’s amazing where your mind goes during such simple tasks. After fixing the bolt i pulled the door closed to check the lock by using a piece of wooden frame fixed to the inside of the door.  I wondered if customers would think to use this piece, seeing it wasn’t immediately obvious. Maybe they wouldn’t. I thought of two things I could do: one, attach a handle; two, write “pull here” on the piece of wood. And here’s where my mind drifted elsewhere.

A handle would be an obvious indicator of what to use/do to close the door. The wood was not obvious, so it needed an explanation. And here I go: from what I’ve read Specialty Coffee shops have a hard time differentiating themselves from others. They are aiming for quality in an industry that requires volume to survive. And so we write on the piece of wood. Looking very much the same, we write  on menus and cards and blackboards who we are and what we’re trying to do. Because, maybe we fear, that if we don’t, customers won’t get it. (Another example I can think of is the “order here”, “pay here” signs. We resort to explaining how it works because it’s not immediately obvious).

I thought to myself, while fixing that lock, what is our handle? What is it that makes what we do plainly obvious? Something that is self explanatory.

Just a thought.

Read James Hoffman’s article “A Linen Napkin” for one good example.


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