Context Matters: 3 Stories, One image.

Context in design is always a good topic. There are so many details within context to miss and just when you think you understand the context of where your design lives, it changes. 

First perspective : Happiness is a good waxing.

It can be so very deceptive and dangerous if we don't consistently dig into the contextual situation.
This is an image from a wonderful work of public art in Chicago. The caption is a joke, which has some mild amusement -- as you may agree or not -- you may also find it something Monroe would have said herself if she had the opportunity. 

Now, moving down the image we have a context that provides nothing more than the original focal point of this iconic image. The outcome of a breeze at the right (Seven Year Itch) moment is apparent. 

Second perspective : The breeze is nice.

And then further down we see what all the fuss is about. She's getting her legs waxed by small hard working men on the streets of Chicago (never mind the shot was taken originally on Lexington Ave in Manhattan). 

What we get is three different stories from three distinct photographs, all of one famous woman experiencing a breeze.

Simple method to get a complex point across to anyone. 

Just because the example is amusing and simple, don't underestimate the lesson. There are plenty of innovators before us who have not fully considered the context for their design, innovation, or concept and when it was eventually immersed into context; it failed. 

Third perspective : Vanity, 50 years after.

If you don't do any research before starting a design project or if you like to quote Apple and say, research doesn't matter, I just do what I know people will like, you will eventually hit the brick wall of context -- and it will hurt more than your nose.


Aaron Keller
Capsule Blog



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