dripping pains part II


A reader commented to the post dripping pains:

It is quite arrogant to say that such a design is bad – just because you have other criteria! You say your comment shouldnt be seen as an insult, but of course it is an insult! Even worse you discredit the makings of a different country than your country of origin, you should have a better respect of other cultures! Your comment may sound very disheartening!

My reply to this and some more photos from the Juno oven (see above) which works without dripping pans (the drip goes onto the outer surface and is not collected in a dripping pan) after the click.

you discredit the makings of a different country than your country of origin, you should have a better respect of other cultures!

I do not think that the dripping pans in the appartment in Fukuoka are a special japanese cultural heritage, since as written in the post we had similar ones in Amherst, USA. Thus the product seems rather to be an international product – it might even be a german product. So I may had even critisized the makings of my own country! The nationality of the product is irrelevant here. In particular there is no sentence in the blogpost where I criticize japanese design per se. On the contrary I wrote “Japan has actually a high culture of design!”.

You say your comment shouldnt be seen as an insult, but of course it is an insult!

I am sorry if you interpreted my blog post as insulting. It was meant as a critique but definitely not as an insult. It is not so easy to find the right tone in an international dialog, since everybody has different notions about rudeness, directness etc. I am aware of the fact that due to my own cultural background (in particular Grete was taking me with her when she did her professional visits to various pubs…) I am used to a directness which may be interpreted by a lot of people as rudeness. Likewise I am often quite prone to interpret friendliness as “false and/or exagerated friendliness” etc.. I try to adapt but sometimes one is just not aware of how the perception on the other side works. Let me give you an example: When I was in the US for the first time it happened to me that a total stranger greeted me with a “How do you do?”. I was baffled, since in Germany only people who know you rather well would ask “How do you do?”. Although I felt irritated I answered truthfully something like that I am tired or so. But the man looked at me as if I was a weirdo. Of course it took me not too long to find out, that the “How do you do?” meant “Hello” and that the man wasn’t expecting an answer. So I am excusing myself if you felt insulted. Again: I did not intend to insult anybody but wanted to criticize a design.

Your comment may sound very disheartening!

I understand what you mean. A critique may be very disheartening and one has indeed to be careful what kind of critique one gives to whom. It is clear that if -for example- you tell an eight year old that he/she is an idiot because he/she can’t solve integrals, then this is not only wrong but also strongly disheartening. So you wouldnt do this but instead switch into a “teaching mode”, where you would balance your critique with pedagogical considerations. In particular one would usually try -if possible- to give “positive critiques” that is you would try to give a strong positive feedback on what you think are the strong abilities of your pupil, and a rather a weak negative or indecisive feedback on the weak abilities of your pupil. (The alternative – namely a solely negative feedback on the weak abilities of the pupil is problematic since as explained in the example the judgement can be false and if the pupil is offered no alternatives this may be more than disheartening. As a matter of fact -it is also more than problematic to give no feedback at all and then tell the pupil at the end of studies that unfortunately he/she is completely incapable.)
So when criticising one may consider to go into “teaching mode”. With my critique at the design of dripping pans I however didnt intend to go into “teaching mode”, because I expected the readership of this blog (and especially those who would be interested in the issue) to be professional enough to deal with a matter-of-fact critique. I personally find it much more useful to get a straight constructive critique, which explains why something is not good than a false friendlyness, which leaves me in the dark.

It is quite arrogant to say that such a design is bad – just because you have other criteria!

Yes you are right – one can have many criteria and opinions about design. And actually I am usually rather tolerant when it comes to design, that is I may sometimes even like Kitch to the horror of my architect sister. I even need to look sometimes at socalled “ugly things” – maybe because I can then valuate the “perfect” ones better? I don’t know. Things which are too perfect can be quite boring too. Small doses of “ugliness” (whatever this is sometimes) can be very refreshing. Likewise I think that form should follow function in design, but I don’t see it as an absolute dogma. There is design -sometimes at the border to art- where the aspect of e.g. an expressive statement of a designer as an author (see e.g. the dispute between Muthesius and van de Velde) may be more important than the concrete function, i.e. the designed object may be rather an art object than something that is intended for use. And again in “small doses” I may even like this kind of “useless” design. However if you are working all day and your kids are hungry you want something that functions well, which wasn’t the case for this above mentioned stove.

So yes my criteria regarding this stove were quite definite and that stove was not meeting these criteria. In particular I consider the dripping pan stove as not meeting the functionality of easy cooking and I criticize this. However this may be a cultural error – maybe people are not expecting this functionality? If this is the case let me know.
I do not want to completely exclude this possibility. And this is no joke. As an example: It can be quite a problem if someone misinterpretes the function of a pen for penball competition games and thinks one can really write with these pens!

But assuming that the stove was intended for real cooking then I find one can say quite clearly that the criterion: “Easy cooking (which includes easy cleaning)” wasn’t met as good as with the Juno (see images below). That may sound arrogant, but I don’t know how to formulate this differently, while still being direct. It should also be said that although I think the dripping pans are not useful I won’t start a rally against them. As said other people may have other criteria and I accept this. I do however think that people should have the possibility to choose the Juno design and I do find it strange that the dripping pan is considered as a kind of “standard” in the US and Japan.

A second important criterion, which I had, namely “environmental friendliness” could also be easily improved. This can be done by bringing the top of the stove into a flat form (see images of the Juno below). That is if one allows for a free flow for the drippings then one can wipe them off much more easily and faster than clean the dripping pans. (And as already said, the more important aspect is here not the material, but the form. Even if the flat stove would be white enamel it would be easier to clean it than the one with the dripping pan.) And in particular one wouldn’t need such workarounds like the aluminium covers (which are mentioned in the blogpost), which are pure waste and thus mildly speaking “environmentally unfriendly”.

I understand that environmental friendliness is not such an important criterion for everybody, but if you know e.g. about the conditions under which Bauxite is mined (see e.g. the plans of the company Vedanta resources) or under which conditions the aluminium is processed then you may consider changing your mind.


Above dripping pan in the appartment in Fukuoka, below flat dripping top at stove Juno:


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