In design circles, you hear the word “delight” a lot. It’s a term bandied about during critiques to describe an intangibly positive effect, but it rarely plays out in the real world of product use. How often does a hairdryer or a computer keyboard truly delight you? Almost never. So what does delight mean?
Here’s your explanation incarnate: Rainbow Pencils. They’re pencils made out of multicolored layers of recycled paper, so as you sharpen them, the shavings unfurl into a miniature rainbow.
Why do I consider this simple idea so brilliant? Because designer Duncan Shotton rethought a mildly laborious experience–finding the pencil sharpener and twisting it carefully–as an enjoyable, rewarding one–discovering the pencil sharpener so you could craft another mini rainbow. With the Rainbow Pencil, a chore in your day becomes a break. That’s the power of delight.
But I’d argue that the Rainbow Pencil could actually be designed one step better, evoking both delight and another one of those designer-conceptual words, “surprise.” Imagine if, rather than coming pre-sharpened, the Rainbow Pencil arrived as a plain tube of white or black. Then, as you sharpened it for the first time, an array of color would blossom. It would be impossible not to smile.
Having ended their run on U.K.’s Kickstarter last month, Rainbow Pencils will be available soon for about $15/pack. You can sign up on Shotton’s site to be alerted.